March 21, 2018

India's armed forces got Rs 1.21 lakh crore less than what they demanded in budget

The government allocated Rs 76,765 crore less to the Army, Navy and Air Force in the defence budget than what they had sought to purchase new weapons, aircraft, warships and other military hardware.

The three forces had demanded Rs 1.60 lakh crore as capital outlay but were granted Rs 83,434 crore for the year 2018-19, according to the details placed before the Lok Sabha today by Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre.

In the revenue outlay, which covers payment of salary, maintenance of establishments and other related expenditure, the allocation was Rs 35,371 crore less than what was demanded.

Overall the three forces were given Rs 1.21 lakh crore less than what they had demanded.

The three forces were known to be unhappy over inadequate allocation of resources, particularly for buying new weapons and platforms when the challenges on the borders with China and Pakistan were growing.

Reflecting the Army's anguish, Vice Chief of Army Lt Gen Sarath Chand has told a Parliamentary panel that the funds given to the force for the next fiscal were insufficient to deal with various security challenges.

He said the Army was struggling to make emergency procurements when China and Pakistan were modernizing their defence forces in "full swing".

According to the details provided by Bhamre in the Lok Sabha while replying to a question, the Army was given Rs 17,756 crore less in the capital outlay and Rs 24,755 crore less under the revenue head than what was sought by it.

Similarly, the Navy's demand for capital outlay was Rs 37,932 crore, but it was given Rs 20,848 crore which was Rs 17,084 less than its demand.

Under capital outlay, the Indian Air Force was given Rs 41,924 crore less than what was demanded by the force.

The minister said that if required, the schemes will be reprioritised to ensure that urgent and critical capabilities of the three forces are acquired.

An outlay of Rs 2.95 lakh crore was set aside for the defence budget for the next fiscal.

The allocation, which was 1.58 per cent of the GDP, was the lowest since 1962 when India and China fought a war.

Chand had said the inadequate allocation of funds will hit the Army's modernisation plan when the Chinese military was competing to reach the level of the US.

He had said 68 per cent of the Army's equipment is in the "vintage category", and the fund crunch will also impact the serviceability of the existing equipment and may even affect payment of installments for past purchases.


France Wanted India To Announce Talks For 36 More Rafale Fighters


Sources in the Defence Ministry told NDTV there is no immediate decision likely till the first tranche of Rafales start arriving in 2019. 


  1. French defence minister wrote to Nirmala Sitharaman last month
  2. She wanted talks for more Rafales to be announced during Macron's visit
  3. Government sources say talks likely after first Rafales arrive next year
A letter from the French Defence Minister Florence Parly addressed to her Indian counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on February 26 indicates that the French government was keen to announce that both countries are in talks for 36 more Rafale jets for the Indian Air Force.

This was, however, not announced in the joint statement made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the visiting French President Emmanuel Macron in New Delhi on Saturday and it's unclear at what stage the talks presently lie.In her letter to Ms Sitharaman, Florence Parly wrote, "As written by the President of the French Republic to the Prime Minister of India on 25th October 2017, we would like to initiate discussions on the proposal of providing an additional thirty-six aircraft to the Indian Air Force, with a very significant share of Make in India." Ms Parly added, "A message to this effect during the visit would be particularly appreciated."

Senior sources in the Ministry of Defence Ministry whom NDTV spoke to in the days prior to the visit of the French President have said that while New Delhi has not ruled out a further acquisition of Rafale fighters, there is no immediate decision likely till the first tranche of Rafales, which are already on order, start arriving in 2019. These jets were ordered in 2016 in a controversial Rs. 58,000-crore government-to-government deal between India and France.
As far as the existing contract is concerned, "the construction of the aircraft intended for the Indian Air Force is progressing according to schedule" wrote Ms Parly in her letter. She added that France remains committed to fulfilling its offset commitments as part of the deal whereby manufacturing and other technology will be transferred to India as part of the overall deal worked out between both countries. "With regard to offsets, French companies are determined to establish long-term partnerships with public and private Indian companies. They have advanced. Thus, the Nagpur production unit should be able to manufacture the first components in spring."
 India and France have also been trying to close out a deal to co-develop and refine India's indigenous jet fighter engine, the Kaveri, a project where the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been unable to meet project objectives. The Kaveri was meant to power India's Light Combat Aircraft Tejas which has, instead, had to rely on US manufactured General Electric GE-404 engines. The joint statement says ''the leaders noted ongoing discussions between DRDO and SAFRAN on combat aircraft engine and encouraged necessary measures and forward looking approaches to facilitate [an] early conclusion.''
 The acquisition of Rafale fighter jets for the Indian Air Force has been one of the most controversial defence deals every signed by India. In a statement yesterday, the Congress party claimed that the Rafale tender had resulted in ''a staggering loss of Rs. 12,632 crore'' since ''India is clearly paying an extra price of Rs. 350.90 crore per aircraft'' compared to what Qatar and Egypt are paying for jets they have ordered from Dassault, the manufacturer of the Rafale. These claims have been vociferously countered in the past with Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman recently telling reporters, "Don't compare it (the Rafale deal) with Bofors. There is no scam here."


Army Sits On Arjun Tank Order Over Missile-Firing Capability

Nearly four years after the Indian Army received clearance from the Ministry of Defence to sign up for 118 of the indigenous Arjun Mk.II main battle tank developed by the DRDO, an actual order remains acutely elusive. And it now emerges that the DRDO is virtually pleading with the Army to go ahead and place the order so it can accelerate the process of moving from tank prototype to mass production. The Army, though, says it has its reasons not to sign on the dotted line yet.
The Arjun Mk.II, an improved version of the Arjun (of which the Indian Army operates 124 tanks across two regiments), was meant to be the solution to the program’s singularly tough run of luck. Last year, Livefist reported on what was only the latest in a history of hurdles (do read for a fuller picture of the project’s troubled history) that had met the project, literally stopping it in its tracks. A new report in Parliament now throws fresh light on Project Arjun’s troubles — its capacity to fire missiles at other tanks.
While the Army is said to have approved 72 desired improvements in trials that lasted from July 2012-September 2015, the Arjun Mk.II hasn’t demonstrated the capability to fire anti-tank missiles satisfactorily yet. Troubles on this front started in 2013 when the chosen Israeli LAHAT weapon failed to meet acceptance test parameters (ATP) of the Army. The following year it was virtually dropped from consideration, with the DRDO deciding to develop an in-house anti-tank missile for the Arjun. It now turns out that the Israeli LAHAT may be back in consideration with assurances of an ‘improved’ version that can meet the Indian Army’s requirements..

The DRDO has notified Parliament that it is urging the Army to release a contractual order on the premise that the Arjun Mk.II will be production ready by 2021-22, and that the improved weapon can be retrofitted by that time. The Army isn’t enthused just yet, with sources saying they are waiting for a minimum basic missile capability demonstration before proceeding to place the order.
The re-entry of the Israeli LAHAT system into consideration is significant too and presents a dilemma to the DRDO. The LAHAT has had a shot with the Arjun and failed to perform satisfactorily, but the fact that it is still even being looked at suggests time pressures. The very fact that the DRDO itself is offering up the option of either an improved LAHAT or its own ATGM for the Arjun suggests it is wary of any further delays derailing a program that has already been postponed beyond measure and memory.

The DRDO has also officially informed Parliament that its tube-launched anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for the Arjun Mk.II is among its sanctioned projects for the year 2017-18. The laser homing tube launched 120mm missile is expected to be ready for user trials in 2018-19.
Last year, Livefist reported on an unprecedented weight reduction exercise that had been ordered by the Army, throwing the Arjun Mk.II’s path to production plan out of gear. It was reported recently that the DRDO is fighting an expectedly losing battle on that front too.


EXCLUSIVE: 1st Full Details Of Rafale’s €4-billion Make-in-India & Offsets Plan

As a political storm intensifies around India’s €7.87 billion deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets from France, and substantial fire focused through allegations of preferential corporate partnerships for the €4 billion in offsets that Dassault Aviation and its partners need to execute, the Narendra Modi government today pushed out more information by way of an answer in Parliament.
The answer not only republished cost figures, with the important disclaimer that these figures didn’t take into account the cost of India-specific modifications, weapons and other services, but also cleared the air on allegations over whether India’s apex Cabinet Committee on Security was in the loop on the Rafale deal.
But as the government prepares to fight off in Parliament what appears to be a dogged opposition attack on the deal, Livefist has obtained access to the first comprehensive details of France’s plans on what will easily be the most challenging component of the Rafale deal: the offsets. Offsets involve investments and sourcing that companies manufacturing the Rafale must make in India amounting to half of the deal’s €7.87 billion value. The offsets are to be executed within seven years from the time the deal was signed — by 2023, that is.
In a series of slides accessed by Livefist, the contours of the ‘Make in India’ elements of the Rafale deal stand revealed for the first time. The details that follow pertain principally to the Rafale platform itself, and doesn’t include the $1-billion partnership between France’s SAFRAN and India’s DRDO for the Kaveri turbofan engine, a major thrust area for both countries that will also count in the offsets program.
The details below reveal that Rafale has so far forged partnerships with at least 72 firms for industrial sourcing areas that span, among other Dassault platforms, the Rafale’s airframe, its Snecma M88 engines, radar, electronic warfare and avionics, aeronautical components, engineering and software. The slides below indicate that Dassault and its partners are in negotiations with tens more firms for offsets opportunities. This, in effect, is the first specific and overall sense of what Indian firms will bring to the table on the Rafale.
This first overview of an offsets execution plan is especially of interest, given that India’s offsets policies are widely regarded by international vendors and governments as convoluted, self-defeating, or, in the words of one prominent CEO, “a godawful mess”.

In Parliament yesterday, India’s junior defence minister Subhash Bhamre said, “The quantum of offsets in the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) for 36 Rafale fighter jets is 50 per cent, which includes investments in terms of Transfer of Technology (ToT) for manufacture and maintenance of eligible products and services. The current offsets policy of the Defence Procurement permits the vendors to provide details of their Indian Offset Partners (IOP) either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to discharge of offset obligations. Vendor/Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) is free to select his Indian Offset Partner.”
The first slide, pertaining to airframe offsets and sourcing, lists the Dassault-Reliance joint venture firm (DRAL) as being part of a group of companies that will produce mechanical parts and sub-assemblies. Other companies in this list include Indian majors like L&T, the Mahindra Group, the Kalyani Group and Godrej & Boyce:

Marked in red are joint venture companies that Dassault and its partners have already incorporated in India, in part, to execute the Rafale deal offsets. Apart from the Dassault Reliance JV, the others include Snecma HAL Aerospace Ltd (SHAe) for aero-engine components and Thales’s joint ventures with India’s SAMTEL for multifunction cockpit displays. The new Thales-Reliance joint venture, named Thales Reliance Defence Systems (TRDS), not only plans to build technologies for Rafales in India and worldwide, but also says it will ‘develop Indian capabilities to integrate and maintain radar and electronic warfare sensors’.
The details revealed today by Livefist add substantially to the level of detail of a conversation that has so far involved much political cloak and dagger from both the government as well as the opposition. The French president departed yesterday after a four-day visit deemed mostly successful on the strategic front, though India notably declined a specific request from the highest levels of the French government to send out a message, while President Macron was in Delhi, that the two countries were in discussions for 36 more Rafale  jets.
Here’s more from the Rafale offsets plan and the Indian companies that will be part of it. Rafale deliveries to the Indian Air Force begin in September 2019.


Donald Trump to boost exports of lethal drones to more US allies

President Donald Trump will soon make it easier to export some types of lethal US-made drones to potentially dozens more allies and partners, according to people familiar with the plan.

Trump is expected to ease rules for such foreign sales under a long-delayed new policy on unmanned military aircraft due to be rolled out as early as this month, the first phase of a broader overhaul of arms export regulations.

US drone manufacturers, facing growing competition overseas especially from Chinese and Israeli rivals who often sell under lighter restrictions, have lobbied hard for the rule changes.

The White House is expected to tout the move as part of Trump's "Buy American" initiative to create jobs and reduce the US trade deficit. Human rights and arms control advocates, however, warn it risks fueling violence and instability in regions such as the Middle East and South Asia. An announcement of the new policy has been held up for months amid deliberations on how far to go in unleashing drones exports. That delay prompted Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to write to Trump's national security adviser H.R. McMaster to press him to expedite the policy shift to avoid losing out on sales to certain countries, an industry source and two U.S officials said.

A key thrust of the policy will be to lower barriers to sales of smaller hunter-killer drones that carry fewer missiles and travel shorter distances than larger models such as the iconic Predator drone, the sources said. Export regulations will also be eased for surveillance drones of all sizes, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Even though Trump will stop short of completely opening up sales of top-of-the-line lethal drones, it will mark a major step toward overcoming a long-standing US taboo against selling armed drones to countries other than a handful of Washington's most trusted allies. Military drones have changed the face of modern warfare, with US models in greatest demand.

Trump's aides had initially focused mostly on devising ways to boost sales of "eye in the sky" drones used for tracking and targeting. But after a more than year-long review, they have crafted a plan that will reinterpret some rules to allow for more armed drone sales overseas.

A list of potential buyers being given fast-track treatment is expected to expand to include more NATO members, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf partners as well as treaty allies such as Japan and South Korea, the people familiar with the plan said.

Also likely to be in the favored group would be key partners such as India, Singapore and Australia as well as many of the 35 signatories to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an international agreement that sets rules for export of missiles and related weaponry. The only sales of armed US drones in recent years have been to Britain and Italy. "We're getting outplayed all over the world," a US official told Reuters. "Why can our competitors sell to our own allies the equipment they are clamoring to buy from us? This policy is meant to turn that around."

A Trump administration official, responding to a request for comment on the story, said the US government is seeking to "minimize the self-inflicted bureaucratic and administrative hurdles to US competitiveness in the global aerospace markets."

The official insisted, however, that any sales of armed drones would be in accordance with US law and require that buyers adhere to international standards.

There was no immediate comment from the White House or Pentagon on the Mattis message to McMaster.


Two potential beneficiaries of the rule changes, Textron and Kratos Defense & Security Solutions Inc, currently market smaller armed drones internationally, though US regulations have apparently restrained them from securing sales so far.

Industry sources say other manufacturers are considering expanding their product lines.

The overall loosening of drone export rules would also help producers such as Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Atomics and Lockheed Martin, two industry sources said.

Company officials declined to comment ahead of the policy unveiling.

The smaller drones that meet the new export guidelines are expected to be much cheaper than high-end models such as the Predator and Reaper, both made by General Atomics, which cost up to $17 million apiece according to reports.

While they are less destructive than the larger drones, their firepower can destroy vehicles, small structures and armed positions.

US officials contend that a more export-friendly approach will not only help meet Trump's 2016 campaign promise to bolster America's "defense industrial base" but also get foreign partners to take on more of their own defense costs.

An increase in drones sales "could put these weapons in the hands of governments that act irresponsibly with their neighbors and against their own populations," warned Jeff Abramson, a senior fellow with the Arms Control Association, a non-partisan Washington-based organization focused on global weapons proliferation threats.

Trump's predecessor, President Barack Obama, introduced revised rules in 2015 aimed at increasing military drone exports. But US manufacturers complained they were still too restrictive.US drone makers are vying for a larger share of the global military drone market, which the Teal Group, a market research firm, has forecast will rise from $2.8 billion in sales in 2016 to $9.4 billion in 2025.

The new policy is expected to be unveiled in coming weeks, people close to the matter said, though they also cautioned that the exact timing remains in flux.

Among the changes will be a more lenient application by the US government of an arms export principle known as "presumption of denial." This has impeded many drone deals by automatically denying approval unless a compelling security reason is given together with strict buyer agreements to use the weapons in accordance with international law.

One US official said the new policy would "change our calculus" by easing those restrictions on whether to allow any given sale.

The MTCR - a 1987 missile-control pact signed by the United States and 34 other countries - will still require strict export controls on Predator-type drones, which it classifies as Category 1, those with a payload of over 1,100 pounds (500 kg).

However, the Trump administration is seeking to renegotiate the MTCR accord to eventually make it easier to export the larger armed drones.


Rafale deal makes no mention of Reliance Defence: Sitharaman

Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman said India’s deal to acquire 36 Rafale jets was inked with the government of France, and that it deal does not require the French supplier to partner with Anil Ambani-led Reliance Defence.

Sitharaman was answering a question raised by Congress MP Sanjay Singh about whether Dassault Aviation entered into a joint venture with Reliance Defence, “a company having no prior experience in manufacturing equipment for jets” as part of the Rs 58,000 cr deal.

Sitharaman said there was no requirement for the French company to enter into a deal with the Anil Ambani company to fulfill its offset commitment to make 50% of the components in India.

Instead, she said, the French company can purchase the components from any Indian company or transfer the technology to make the components to government organizations like the Defense Research and Development Organization or DRDO.

“The avenues for discharge of offsets include direct purchase of eligible products, Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in joint ventures, direct purchase through investment in kind in terms of Transfer of Technology (ToT), equipment, provision of equipment or ToT to government institutions including DRDO and technology acquisition by DRDO,” she said.

The choice of how it wanted to achieve the offset commitment, and its partner in India, was up to the French company, she added.

“The vendor or the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is free to select Indian offset partners,” she claimed.


The deal, which was being negotiated under the previous Manmohan Singh government, but was finalized under the present Narendra Modi government, has come under much attack by the opposition.

The Congress Party said it was looking for deal to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets. Of these 18 Rafale fighter jets were to be delivered by the French company in flyaway condition, while the rest (108) were to be manufactured in India at the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.

The whole thing would have cost only Rs 79,200 cr, Congress Party claims.

Instead, the Modi government has agreed to pay Rs 58,000 cr to France to buy 36 jets in ‘fly away’ condition, which makes less economic sense and causes a loss to India.

This has been countered by the Modi government using two arguments.

First, it said that the French company was not ready to transfer the manufacturing technology to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, and therefore, the plan to make the jets at HAL’s factories at a lower cost was impossible.

Secondly, Indian Airforce chief Birender Singh Dhanoa and others have said that the French have refused to share the manufacturing technology with HAL, but were willing to share it with the DRDO.

Sitharaman has also said that 126 Rafale jets will be manufactured in India under future deals.


U.S., India: Forging a Strategic Defense Partnership

India is exploring a deepening defense partnership with the United State as it seeks to balance against an increasingly assertive China in the Indo-Pacific region. On March 20, Indian National Security Adviser Ajit Doval arrived in the United States to meet with his American counterpart, H.R. McMaster, along with incoming U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo and incoming CIA Director Gina Haspel. Doval's visit aims to lay the groundwork for a first-ever dialogue between Indian and U.S. foreign and defense ministers, which was originally scheduled for April 18 but which has since been delayed pending Pompeo's confirmation.

Of particular significance during Doval's visit are two outstanding foundational defense agreements India has yet to sign with the United States. The first is called the Communications, Compatibility and Security Agreement (COMCASA) and involves sharing encrypted technology and secure communications between the two countries' militaries. The second is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA), which would enable Washington to share geospatial intelligence with New Delhi.

India's history of colonization has instilled in its government a desire for maintaining strategic military autonomy and preventing interference from larger powers. Thus, the country's policymakers are wary of any agreements that could be perceived as compromising this ethos. Indeed, New Delhi negotiated for more than a decade before it finally signed a foundational U.S.-India defense pact in August 2016. That document, the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement, allows for logistics sharing between the Indian and American militaries on a case-by-case basis.

But there are signs that India could fast-track discussions about the new agreements. Reports suggest that New Delhi is satisfied with the way that Washington has so far addressed concerns about Indian military autonomy, though no details have been released on the matter. If India does end up signing and implementing COMCASA and BECA later this year, the Indian and U.S. militaries will be able to greatly increase their interoperability. The signing would also indicate a shift in India's approach to its own strategic autonomy doctrine.

So far, there is only limited information about the progress of the two defense agreements, and there are many details left to address. But the United States and India share a strong desire to counter China's maritime expansion, which they both view as a threat to their energy and trade routes in the Indian and Pacific oceans. And this mutual interest will likely encourage cooperation, despite the risks it may raise.


Indian Army Places Order For Upgrading Field Guns

Ordnance Factories Board (OFB), an industrial organisation functioning under India’s Department of Defence, has received an order for upgrading over 300 field guns for the Indian Army, after it successfully completed the user evaluation of 130/155 mm "upgunning".

“We successfully ‘upgunned’ the old 130mm Russian field guns to 155mm and bagged the Army’s order. The Army has already ordered 300 guns and may want more. Our factory at Nalanda has started producing the propellant for shells for these guns that we used to import earlier,” OFB Chairman S K Chourasia was quoted as saying by PTI on Monday.

"The cost of a new 155-mm artillery gun comes to around Rs 15 crore, while the upgradation has been done for just Rs one crore for each, thus saving the exchequer a lot of money," Chourasia said further.

The upgradation, involving the changing of the barrel, would mean an increase in the range of the field gun from around 27 kms to 36 kms, an OFB official explained.

OFB member (weapons, vehicles and equipment) Hari Mohan said the indigenous technological solution for upgunning the 130-mm field guns was achieved at the organisation's Nalanda facility and had emerged as the only acceptable offer to the armed forces' requirements.

Chourasia said research and development was being cultivated at the OFB's 13 ordnance development centres.

"With the assistance of premier academic institutions like the IITs at Mumbai, Kanpur and Kharagpur, the ordnance factories are not only upgrading the existing products, but also developing new weapon platforms," he added.


March 19, 2018

F-16 jet production in India will be exclusive: Lockheed

The plan to set up a F-16 jet production unit in India will be an “exclusive” proposition that will help the country in achieving its operational needs as well as the ‘Make in India’ initiative, according to American aerospace and defence major Lockheed Martin. As India continues to shop around to add new fighter jets into its air force, Lockheed Martin has offered to relocate its entire production line to India. The company said it intends to create far more than an “assembly line” in India.
“We plan to introduce two new words into the lexicon of international fighter aircraft manufacturing: ‘India’ and ‘exclusive’. F-16 production in India will be exclusive — something that has never before been presented by any other fighter aircraft manufacturer, past or present,” Vivek Lall, vice president, Strategy and Business Development, Lockheed Martin told PTI in an interview.
“The F-16 gives the Indian industry a unique opportunity to be at the centre of the world’s largest fighter aircraft ecosystem,” said Lall, who played a key role in some of the big ticket American military sales to India, including the General Atomics-built Guardian Predator Drones announced by the US last year. Responding to a question, Lall claimed the offer from Lockheed is cost advantageous for India.

“The F-16 is the only aircraft programme in this competition with the proven performance and industrial scale to meet India’s operational needs and Make in India priorities,” he said, claiming that that no competing aircraft comes close to matching the F-16’s operational effectiveness and industrial success. The F-16 remains the backbone of the US Air Force, the world’s most capable air force, he said. Structural and avionic upgrades to the US F-16 fleet will extend service life to 2045, while the F-16 becomes even more capable as technology enhancements from the F-22 and F-35 are continuously integrated across all three platforms, he added. Lall, however, refused to reply to questions on F-35.
“Any discussions regarding potential new F-35 customers begin at the government-to-government level. It is not our place to speak on behalf of the US government or the government of India,” he said. Notably, US Pacific Command Commander Admiral Harry Harris during his two recent Congressional testimonies have supported selling F-35 fighter jets to India. “At the moment, India is considering a number of US systems for purchase, all of which USPACOM fully supports: the F-16 for India’s large single-engine, multi-role fighter acquisition programme,” Harris told the Congressional committees last week.


March 17, 2018

Pakistan has failed to take decisive actions against terrorists: White House

Pakistan has failed to take decisive actions against terror groups as sought by the Trump administration, the White House said today, and warned Islamabad that the US is prepared to take actions on its own to safeguard its personnel in Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump had announced his South Asia Policy in August last year, criticising Pakistan for providing safe havens to terror groups carrying out attacks in Afghanistan.

"Six months after the announcement of the South Asia Policy by President Donald Trump, Pakistan has failed to take the kind of decisive actions that the US is seeking," a senior administration official told reporters.

Expressing the White House's displeasure on the alleged continued reluctance on the part of Pakistan to take action against terrorists, the official said, "We are still seeking actions from Pakistan that we have not seen. We are continuing to look for real actions and not word on the Taliban and the Haqqani sanctuaries."

Noting that the US want to see actions against terrorist, the official said, the Trump administration was "prepared to take steps which we feel are necessary to safeguard our personal" in Afghanistan.

The official, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity, insisted that there is an urgency on the part of Pakistan to take action.

Citing some of the recent high-profile attacks in Kabul by terrorists from across the border, the official said, "It's Pakistan choice on which direction it wants to take the future of the relationship and added that the US was still engaging Pakistani leaders.

"The US is interested in addressing some of the Pakistani concerns, but the ball lies in Islamabad's court," the official said.

Responding to a series of questions, the official, however, did not give any indication on the kind of actions the US was contemplating against Pakistan, given its frustration for them not taking action against terrorist groups.

The Trump Administration, for the first time, has really restored clarity to the US-Pakistan relationship.

"We are truly holding Pakistan accountable for its actions," the official said, adding the President has made it clear that he is not satisfied with the action taken by Islamabad.

"We have communicated clear to Pakistan to what we mean by decisive action," the official said, without giving details about the kind of action the US wants to see from Islamabad except for saying that it wants complete elimination of terrorist safe havens from within its territory.

Pakistanis have wanted to be responsive to the US request, but they "have done bare minimum", the senior administration official said. The US continues to send specific request for actions against terrorist groups, the official added.

"When provided very specific information, they (Pakistanis) have responded. But we have not seen them taking pro-active actions against terrorist groups. (we believe that) They are very capable (in taking those steps)," the official said.

On questions about the deadline, the official said the US is in discussion with Pakistan. "We do not talk in terms of deadlines".

However, Pakistan understand that the way the America appropriations are set up and there are deadlines with regard to assistance. These Congressional deadlines will sometime kick in, the official added.

"We need to sustain the pressure. Any sense that pressure is being relieved, we definitely would not see the objective that we want to see. We intend to continue the pressure and at the same time indicate that there is a way forward. It is good for Pakistan to cooperate with the US on Afghanistan," the official said.

The US also wants Pakistan to take action against Pakistan-based terrorist groups that target India like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

"We believe that the release of Hafeez Saeed in November was a step in the wrong direction," the officials said ruing that Pakistan has not taken sufficient steps with regard to curbing finances of terrorism.

The official also said Pakistan has been taking "bare minimum" actions against terrorists on the US' request.

"We expected that this would be difficult for Pakistan. We expected that it would take some time for Pakistan to break those relationship between intelligence services and the militants. So far, we have seen them taking bare minimum steps that we are requesting," the official pointed out in response to another question.
 - economictimes

Indian Navy considers adding 3 more French subs to its fleet

Indian Navy may consider the option for producing next line of three submarines from France. But any decision to this regard will only happen after the completion of its ongoing Scorpene submarine project. French firm DCNS is already building six Scorpene submarines in the Mumbai based defence public sector undertaking Mazagaon Dock Limited.

"Yes, there are speculations and even demand to have three additional submarines in MDL. Since we already have production line set up along with expertise, other options can be looked into. But first, existing submarine project should complete on time," Vice Admiral Srikant said on the sidelines of the launch of a special series on the Indian submarines on Discovery Channel.

During French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to India last week, both countries discussed the issue of having additional submarines for Indian Navy. France has been pushing for the programme, but its Presidential polls had put the negotiations on hold. The strength of the Indian Navy's submarine fleet has dwindled from a total of 21 submarines in the 1980s to 14 conventional submarines plus one homemade Arihant-class nuclear submarine and one Russian Akula-class submarine operating on lease. To make the situation more worse, at a given point of time, Indian navy is operating with half of its submarine fleet strength as most of them are in the last leg of their active operational life and are on mid-life upgrades. And the matter raises serious concerns when we compare it with our neighbour China, which has strength of 65 submarines.

While on the Indian Navy's upcoming Project 75 India, Vice Admiral Srikant said that government is in the process of selecting Strategic Partner. "Project will be under the Strategic Partnership Model and once partner is selected, things will roll out soon. We can not give a deadline to it," Srikant added.

The Indian Navy on December 8, 2017 celebrated golden jubilee of its underwater fleet.

Discovery Channel is coming out with a special four part series ‘Breaking Point: The Indian Submariners’ starting from March 19, which will give the viewers a closer look into the world of complex, high-technology platform like the submarines.

"The submarine arm has largely been away from the public eyes because it operates from the depths, beneath the water, and quietly add to the nation’s security cover. However, as we celebrate our golden jubilee of existence, we wanted to reach out to the nation and give them an insight into the life of our supremely talented officers who take grave risk to ensure that the maritime borders remain secure. We are proud to partner with a channel like Discovery and bring forth this unique four-part Breaking Point series on Indian Submariners. We believe this series will be an eye-opener for majority of our countrymen offering a never-seen-before insight into the life a submariner and the challenges he faces on a day to day basis," vice admiral Srikant further said.


Indian Air Force not keen on stealth fighter with Russia

A multibillion dollar programme to develop and produce a stealth fighter with Russia appears to be in peril, with the Indian Air Force (IAF) against pursuing it as it believes that the platform lacks the desired stealth characteristics and is inferior to US-made F-35 and F-22 jets, said a senior IAF officer familiar with the project.

He clarified there were no plans to go for a US stealth fighter.

In the IAF’s assessment, the proposed Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter aircraft, or FGFA, comes with limited capabilities and design issues at an exorbitant price. “Whether the FGFA programme is on or off will be a political decision. The IAF doesn’t think it’s worth pursuing,” the person quoted above said.

The government is finding it hard to reconcile two different points of view on FGFA.

While the IAF wants the project to be abandoned, a high-powered panel appointed by defence ministry to examine different aspects of FGFA recommended in its report last year that India should go ahead with the scheme.

“We are spending more time to see what are the merits and demerits of both arguments. But yes, the FGFA is abhorrently expensive, so we are looking at what we are getting for our money,” said a top defence ministry official familiar with the project.

Air Marshal Simhakutty Varthaman (retd), who headed the ministry’s panel, refused comments on his report or the contrary IAF view on the stealth fighter. “I would like to leave it to the defence ministry,” he said.

India has been in discussions with Russia but has not signed a $4 billion research and development contract for FGFA.

“I was never enthused by it and I would go by what IAF has to say,” said Air Marshal Vinod Patni (retd), head of Centre for Air Power Studies and a former IAF vice chief.