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May 31, 2011

German Defence Minister to meet Antony: fighter deal on agenda

(PTI) In the race for bagging the multi-billion dollar combat aircraft deal, German Defence Minister Thomas de Maizere will meet his Indian counterpart A K Antony here tomorrow.The German Defence Minister is part of the delegation led by German Chancellor Angela Merkel who will be discussing a range of issues with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh."The two sides are expected to discuss ways to increase security cooperation and strengthen counter-piracy measures along with the Indian Air Force (IAF) deal to procure 126 Medium Weight-Multi Role Combat Aircraft (M-MRCA)," Defence Ministry officials said.Eurofighter Typhoon, built by four nations including Germany, is one of the two selected aircraft for the M-MRCA tender, including French Dassault Rafale.Hard-selling its aircraft, German Ambassador to India Thomas Matussek appreciated the "transparency and orderly manner" in which India had approached MMRCA deal and said Germany is prepared to share most modern technology with its Indian partners.India and Germany share a strategic partnership in the field of defence.In 2006, the two sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the establishment of three bilateral working groups focusing on strategic and policy matters on military issues, cooperation between the armed forces, defence technology and defence business cooperation.

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Decks cleared for purchase of 10 C-17s with offsets

(Indian Express ) : After considerable diligence and mathematics, India is all set to purchase 10 C-17 Globemaster strategic lift aircraft from US for $4.1 billion, with upfront offsets of $1.12 billion. The Cabinet Committee on Security on Wednesday will consider a revised proposal for purchase of C-17s which, for the first time, outlines the offsets including a High Altitude Engine Test Facility and Trisonic Wind Tunnel Facility valued at $510 million, for the Defence Research & Development Organisation.
India’s access to advanced technology air tunnel would be important as it has depended on Russian test facilities to evaluate the indigenous Kaveri jet engine, which was to be used in the LCA project.
The other half of the offsets, according to the proposal, would be shared between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for training and maintenance for the aircraft, Tata Consultancy Services for defence strategic communication systems and Defence Land Systems — a joint venture between Mahindra Group and BAE Systems — for armoured vehicles. 
The original proposal had talked of Boeing fulfilling its obligations under the Defence Procurement Procedure “as per policy” and hence, the offset was not stated. Under the DPP, any foreign company bagging contract worth over $300 million has to invest back at least 30 per cent of it into the Indian defence sector.
However, sources said, the C-17 offsets would cost India an additional 7-8 per cent in the total outgo on the purchase as the US has explained that it would be paying more for Indian offsets than it could have got the same services and products from other sources.
With this offset promise, decks have been cleared for the biggest-ever Indo-US defence deal under the American foreign military sales (FMS) programme, a direct government-to-government contract.
The four-engine Globemaster-III giant strategic airlift aircraft is capable of carrying a payload of almost 170,000 pounds and landing even at small forward airbases with semi-prepared runways and can transport tanks and troops over 2,400 nautical miles.

Russia delivers another batch of naval fighters to India

Russia's MiG aircraft maker delivered a new batch of five Mig-29K/KUB carrier-based fighters to the Indian navy in May, the company said.
"A flight training simulator and other technical equipment has also been delivered," MiG said in a statement on Monday.
The two countries signed a contract stipulating the supply of 12 single-seat MiG-29Ks and four two-seat MiG-29KUBs to India in January 2004. The contract is part of a $1.5-billion deal to deliver the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, currently being retrofitted in Russia for the Indian Navy.
India's first four MiG-29Ks and MiG-29KUBs officially entered service in February 2010.
In March 2010, Russia and India signed a $1.5-billion contract on the supplies of 29 additional MiG-29K Fulcrum-D carrier-based fighter jets to New Delhi. The start of the supplies is scheduled for 2012.
The contracts for the jets also stipulate pilot training and aircraft maintenance, including the delivery of flight simulators and interactive ground and sea-based training systems.
The Indian Navy has named its Mig-29K squadron the 'Black  Panthers' The fighters will be based at an airfield in the state of Goa on India's west coast until the Admiral Gorshkov joins the Navy under the name of INS Vikramaditya in early 2013.
The Vikramaditya is expected to carry up to 24 MiG-29K/KUB fighters. The future indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant being built by India may also carry these aircraft.

 (RIA Novosti)

Russian sub joins NATO exercise for first time

A Russian Black Sea Fleet task force, led by a submarine is taking part in NATO naval drills off the coast of Spain, the Russian Defense Ministry said, the first time a Russian submarine has participated in any NATO exercise..
Bold Monarch is the world's largest submarine rescue exercise held every three years. This year's exercise, conducted on May 30-June 10 near the Spanish port of Cartagena, involves submarines, ships and aircraft from both NATO and non-NATO countries, including Russia.
"The Russian task force comprises the diesel submarine Alrosa, salvage tug Shakhtyor, auxiliary vessel KIL-158, and rescue vessel Epron," a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said on Monday.
The Alrosa, a Kilo class diesel-electric submarine, will play the part of a "vessel in distress", stuck on the sea bed. Ships equipped with a range of sophisticated debris clearance, diver assisted gear and submarine rescue vehicles will attempt to salvage the sub and rescue its crew.
The Russian auxiliary vessel KIL-158 carries an advanced Seaeye Panther Plus underwater remotely operated vehicle (ROV), the spokesman said.
Panther Plus was adopted by the Russian Navy after an incident with Russian submariners in the Bering Sea in August 2005, when Russia's AS-28 submersible became tangled in a fishing net at a depth of about 190 meters (about 620 feet).
The ROV can operate at depths up to 1,000 meters (3,300 feet).

 (RIA Novosti)

Ukraine's economic news First batch of Indian Air Force An-32s upgraded in Ukraine leaves for India

(Interfax: Ukraine) Ukraine has sent a first batch of An-32 light transport aircraft to India following their upgrading at facilities of the Ukrainian defense and industrial complex under an order from the Indian Air Force.
Ukrspecexport state-run company told Interfax-Ukraine that first five ungraded planes have left for Kanpur (North India) from India. It is expected that the planes will arrive to India in 5-6 days.
Equipment to develop aircraft repair facilities in India was also shipped along with the aircraft.
"The contract is being realized according to schedule. India highly appreciates the quality of the work done by Ukrainian companies and new flying characteristics of upgraded An-32 aircraft," the company told Interfax-Ukraine.
By late 2011 another ten An-32 aircraft will be delivered to the customer, the company said.
The acceptance document for the first batch was signed by India on May 18.
The contract, worth some $400 million, involves repairing and modernizing 103 An-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force. It was signed in July 2009 between the Indian Air Force and Spectechnoexport, which won a respective tender announced in December 2007. Ukraine's Antonov Plant and Civil Aviation Plant 410 are executing the contract.
According to the contract, 40 airplanes are to be modernized in Ukraine and the rest of aircraft at the BRD-1 aviation plant of the Indian Air Force in Kanpur (North India).
As a part of the upgrade, the Indian aircraft will be fitted with around 25 types of modern equipment made in Ukraine and other countries. The equipment increases flight safety.
The upgraded An-32 will be able to land according to the ICAO category II approach. Fuel consumption and the mass of the empty upgraded aircraft will be lower compared to the basic model.
In addition, in line with a three-year contract worth $110 million signed in December 2009 by OJSC Motor Sich (Zaporizhia) and the Indian Air Force, the AI-20 engines of the Indian An-32s are to be upgraded.

May 30, 2011

SAAB to bid for Indian Navy MRMR tender

(StratPost) : Swedish defense and aerospace company SAAB is planning to offer its SAAB 2000 aircraft to the Indian Navy when it issues a Request For Proposal (RFP) for Medium Range Maritime Reconnaissance (MRMR) aircraft in the next few months.
The Indian Navy currently operates the Russian Tu-142 Bear and IL-38 aircraft, in addition to Dornier aircraft. It has also ordered eight P-8I Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance (LRMR) aircraft and is expected to buy an additional four.
The aircraft is built by US aviation company Boeing, which is planning to pitch a medium range 'diet P-8 for the Indian Navy’s MRMR tender.
While the SAAB 2000 is being offered with the RBS-15 Anti Ship Missile and a fifth generation Selex AESA radar, what is also interesting is that SAAB is offering re-manufactured aircraft, since the company ceased production of the aircraft in 1999.
“We will take an existing SAAB 2000. We will re-manufacture it and build it up. So it will be ground zero flying hours. We will have all the warranties. We will have 35,000 flying hours. It will have 25 years of support,” said Tommy Hultin, SAAB’s Business Development Director for the program.
Hultin also says the Harpoon missile manufactured by Boeing, which India is already planning to acquire for the Indian Air Force (IAF) Jaguar and the P-8I aircraft, can also be configured on the SAAB 2000, which he points out, is one of the fastest turboprop aircraft flying.

SAAB's offer
The baseline SAAB 2000
Radar: Selex Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Maritime Surveillance Radar with long range search of 200 nautical miles. The interrogator functions of the Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) capability can be customized. The radar is paired with a Saab R4A AIS transponder receiver/transmitter system that marks maritime activity with an encrypted data link.
Electro-Optic (HDTV) and Thermal Imager sensors: For close range detection, identification and recording of surface objects and activities.
Growth options on the SAAB 2000
ELINT: Capable of intercepting and collect intelligence information consisting of detailed information of e.g. complex emitters active signal components, the relationship and the dynamics between active signal components.
ESM system: Automatically identifies RF (Radio Frequency) signal sources and Direction Finding of RF signal sources.
Specifications of the SAAB 2000
SPS system: Radar warning receivers, missile approach warning sensors, laser warning sensors as well as chaff and flare dispensers for self protection.
COMINT system: Enhances SIGINT capability by complementing the baseline ELINT system. Includes Direction Finder function and an Intercept System.
Cabin layout of the SAAB 2000
Command & Control (C2) system: Integrates and assists in controlling mission sensors and provides the user interface to mission operators, via four (4) workstations installed side-by-side in the cabin facing starboard, and to the pilots via a dedicated tactical display. The workstations also provide access to the mission communication system.
FLIR: Forward Looking Infra Red which can be used for identification of vessels. While performance depends on on environmental conditions such as fog, sea-state, salt percentage, it can typically be used within a range of 5-10 nautical miles.
SAAB says the aircraft can operate from high altitude airfields, ‘taking off with maximum load and fuel even at very hot temperatures’. With a cruising speed of 350 knots, it can climb to an altitude of 20,000 ft in 10 minutes and reach an operating area 1,000 nautical miles away within three hours. It can maintain position on a single engine even at a height of 20,000 feet.
The aircraft is said to be able to carry out a mission covering 200 nautical miles Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) for 5.5 hours at an altitude of 2,000 ft, or longer patrol times at higher altitudes up to 31000 feet.

West to have 80,000 cruise missiles by 2020 - interview

Russian military experts forecast that Western nations will have 80,000 cruise missile by 2020, a deputy commander of the Russian General Staff said on Saturday.
"We expect Western countries to have at least 80,000 cruise missiles by 2020, including about 2,000 of them nuclear-powered," Gen. Igor Sheremet said in an interview with the Ekho Moskvy radio station.
He added these missiles are clearly not simply designed for drilling or intimidation purposes.
"They can deliver disarming or even 'decapitation' strikes," Sheremet said.
Hence, he said, the plans to develop Russia's air and space defense system in 2011 as instructed by President Dmitry Medvedev in November.
The new system will combine the existing air defense and missile defense networks, missile early-warning systems and airspace monitoring systems under a unitified strategic command.
In mid-February, Valery Ivanov, commander of the strategic command of the new air and space defense system, said the system would be set up and start operating by the end of 2011.
The Russian political and military leadership have long considered plans to develop strong missile and space defenses by 2020, but no concrete steps have been taken so far and the country does not even have a well-defined command structure to tackle this problem.
According to one proposal, the unified aerospace defense command will absorb some air defense units which are currently part of the Russian Air Force, and Space Forces units.
The Russian military plans to build a comprehensive air and space defense network consisting of S-400 Triumf and future S-500 air defense systems and the Soviet-era Mig-31 Foxhound supersonic interceptors.
The S-500 system is expected to have an extended range of up to 600 km (over 370 miles) and simultaneously engage up to 10 targets. The system will be capable of destroying hypersonic and ballistic targets.
Russia's leading missile manufacturer Almaz-Antei said last March that it was developing at least six types of advanced air defense systems to be available for the Russian military in around 2015.
 (RIA Novosti)

Poland, U.S. to sign airbase deal after Obama visit

The Polish defense minister confirmed on Friday that Warsaw and Washington would sign a deal on the permanent deployment of a U.S. air detachment in Poland after U.S. President Barack Obama's upcoming visit to the European state.
Polish media reports have speculated that Obama could announce the transfer of an F-16 squadron from the Aviano base in Italy to the Lask air field in central Poland during his May 27-28 visit to Warsaw.
"An agreement on the permanent deployment of U.S. Air Force assets in Poland and the periodic rotation of F-16 fighters in the country will be signed after Barack Obama's visit," Defense Minister Bogdan Klich said in an interview with the TOK FM radio.
The U.S. detachment will service F-16 fighter jets, Hercules transport planes, and land personnel periodically visiting Poland, the minister said.
Klich expressed hope that the F-16 rotation could start as early as in 2013.
Meanwhile, Russia warned Poland against hosting U.S. fighter jets, saying it would counter the move.

 (RIA Novosti)

Student Innovative Ideas Ready to share most modern technology with India: Germany

(PTI): Appreciating the "transparency and orderly manner" in which the Indian government has gone about the selection of Medium Weight-Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA), Germany has said it is prepared to share most modern technology with its Indian partners.

Briefing reporters ahead of the Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit next week, German ambassador Thomas Matussek said in all probability she will express to the Prime Minister "our great satisfaction about the transparency and orderly manned in which Indian government approached this process".

She will also "express our full confidence in the procedure with which India, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) will continue to approach this process", Matussek said here.

Asserting that Germany was prepared to share most modern technology with its Indian partners, he said Germany was "quite happy" with its Eurofighter Typhoon's shortlisting.

Terming the development as a "unique, strategical and technological partnership", he said the Eurofighter represents the most advance and the most cost efficient combat aircraft.

He said these are the most modern aircraft, not the old ones which have been modernised many times.

Asked about competition from French fighter aircraft Rafale, developed by France’s Dassault Aviation, Matussek said, it was always better to go with a group of more than one country as it provides you with more expertise.

Developed by European Consortium's EADS, Typhoon along with Rafale last month qualified for the final round of commercial bidding process for the $10.4 billion MMRCA deal.

Under the deal, India would get a total of 126 fighter aircraft which will form the backbone of IAF's air-strike and deep penetration capability in the future.

(Brahmand)

Russia Snubs India

(India Today): Russia has cancelled both its 'Indra' series of military exercises with India. Last month, a flotilla of five warships from the Indian navy's eastern fleet that went for joint naval exercises to Vladivostok in the Russian far-east, was turned back without any manoeuvres. The warships-which included the missile destroyers INS Delhi, INS Ranvir and INS Ranvijay-were warmly received by the Russian navy, but when asked about the exercises, they were told the Russians had no ships to spare. On a request from the Indian fleet, a face-saving 'table top exercise or a land-based simulation, was carried out. What rubbed salt in their wounds was that Russian warships sailed out for an exercise of their own, apparently belying their earlier claims. The cancelled exercise was hushed up even as the warships returned to Visakhapatnam. A befuddled Ministry of Defence (mod) was groping for answers when they were snubbed again. Last week, Russia informed the mod that it had cancelled the upcoming joint army exercises scheduled to be held in Russia in June. One of the reasons given was that the mod had not informed Moscow of the army exercises in advance. Petr Topychkhanov of the Carnegie Moscow Centre says the cancellation of the exercises does not reflect any change in relations with India. "One of the reasons could be the hard process of military reform in Russia. The Russian armed forces are unready for an international exercise at this stage," he says.
Since 2003, India and Russia have conducted five of the Indra series military exercises between the armies and navies of both sides. The last such exercise was held between Russian and Indian army units in Uttarakhand in October last year. In sharp contrast, India has conducted over 60 military exercises with the US. Indian defence officials admit that exercises with Russia are largely symbolic but are an important barometer of healthy ties between the two sides. The strategic partnership with Russia still holds.
Defence Minister A.K. Antony says that Delhi's proximity to Washington will not be at the cost of ties with Moscow. On the ground, however, ties have been on a roller-coaster ride. Russia is unhappy at losing a lucrative $10 billion contract for 126 multi-role medium combat aircraft. The iaf narrowed its choice to France's Rafale and Europe's Typhoon, ejecting US and Russian contenders. Topychkhanov does not rule out cancellation of the military exercises as a retort by the miffed Russians. Air Chief Marshal P.V. Naik visited Moscow recently to inspect progress on the joint Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (fgfa). The visit was also meant to mollify Russia and indicate India's commitment to the futuristic fighter which is expected to replace the most current fighter aircraft in the iaf's inventory when it is ready for squadron service in 2017.
Relations between India and Russia soured in recent years over the extended deadline for the refit of the aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov. The refit slipped by four years and the its cost doubled to $2.3 billion. The carrier will now be delivered late next year. Deadlines for the acquisition of an Akula-II class nuclear-powered submarine have slipped by over three years. India paid $670 million for completing the submarine under a 2003 contract. This month, a 100-man Indian crew that had gone to Vladivostok to bring the vessel back returned empty-handed. There is no word on when the strategic submarine, which the navy desperately needs, will be transferred to India. Russia is reportedly keen that India pay for the completion of a second unfinished Akula hull at the Komsomolsk shipyard. This has been turned down by the navy.
The real issue is the poor sourcing of components for Russian-made equipment operated by the Indian armed forces. Over half the inventory of the three armed forces comprise equipment of Russian origin. "It takes nearly a year for us to get even export permissions from Russia. This severely impacts force preparedness," says a defence official.
Some of India's consternation over these delays may have spilled over at a meeting between navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma and the visiting Russian navy chief, Admiral Sergeevich Vysotskiy, this January. Various department heads of the Indian navy read out the riot act on the poor serviceability of warships, aircraft and submarines to the Russian naval delegation. After the meeting, Vysotskiy privately conveyed his dismay at the ambush. The warning signs appeared at a recent joint meeting in Moscow when Russian defence officials refused to discuss military exercises. Evidently, it was a portent of the chill to come.

May 28, 2011

US Army receives first THAAD missiles

ALABAMA (BNS): US Army has received the first two Terminal High Altitude Area Defence Missiles from Lockheed Martin, US Army officials announced Thursday.

The THAAD missile is a US Army missile system designed to intercept and destroy short, medium and intermediate ballistic missiles.

"Our new mission to receive, store and ship THAADs is a great example of how the team here at ADMC can work with our customers to provide outstanding and unique munitions services to ensure ADMC remains a valuable asset to the war-fighter," ADMC Commander Lt. Col. Randall DeLong said.

The missile uses kinetic energy to destroy its target, meaning it does not carry a warhead like traditional missiles, but makes a direct hit and destroys the enemy missile.

ADMC will be responsible for maintaining, shipping and escorting the missiles to their destination.

The two missiles have arrived at Anniston Defence Munitions Center of the US Army and will be there until the need arises to ship them to the war-fighter.

- brahmand

May 27, 2011

Indonesia orders 16 T-50 trainers

(Flight Global) : Indonesia has placed a $400 million order for 16 Korea Aerospace Industries T-50 Golden Eagle advanced jet trainers, the type's first export sale.
The Indonesian Defense Ministry signed the deal on Wednesday, said Enes Park, executive vice president of KAI. The contract stipulates that the aircraft must be delivered 18 months after the signing of a loan agreement between the South Korean and Indonesian governments.
The announcement follows a 12 April letter the Indonesian government sent to KAI designating the South Korean firm as the preferred bidder to replace Indonesia's BAE Systems Hawk 53s. The letter all but sealed the fate of the T-50's rivals in the competition, the Aero Vodochody L-159 and Yakovlev Yak-130.
The 16 General Electric F404-powered aircraft will be produced at the KAI facilities in Sacheon, South Korea. They will shipped to Indonesia partially disassembled, where Indonesia state aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara Indonesia/Indonesian Aerospace (IAe) will reassemble them.
"The aircraft is certainly capable of being ferried, but transporting them meets Indonesian industrial regulations," says Park. "(Re-assembling) the aircraft will help them improve their capabilities."
Despite the best efforts of KAI and the South Korean government, theT-50 lost trainer competitions in both the United Arab Emirates and Singapore to the Alenia Aermacchi M-346.
The T-50 will again square off against its rival in Israel and the USA. In 2012, the Israeli Air Force will decide between the T-50 and M-346 to replaces its Douglas A-4 Skyhawk trainers. In early May, Alenia Aermacchi general manager Alessandra Franzoni said America's T-X competition to replace the 1960s era Northrop T-38C will be a two horse race between the T-50 and M-346.
Park adds that there could be a possibility of selling Indonesia the T-50's combat variant, the F/A-50. "While there have been no concrete discussions on this, there is a distinct possibility of this in the future."
Indonesia is also still involved in South Korea's proposed KF-X programme, says Park. At the Farnborough air show in 2010, South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding with Indonesia, with the latter to potentially contribute up to 20% of the KF-X development costs. Indonesia is currently looking at how it might participate in the project.
The T-50 buy is just the latest example of Jakarta's efforts to upgrade the nation's air force. In November 2010, it purchased eight Embraer EMB-314 Super Tucano light attack aircraft to replace Vietnam War-era Rockwell OV-10 Broncos. In January 2011 it awarded Arinc Engineering Services a $66.7 million contract to modernise five Lockheed Martin C-130Bs.
Indonesia is also considering upgrading its 10 Lockheed Martin F-16A/B fighters. Media reports have said Jakarta will buy 24 ex-US Air Force F-16s, but this has not been officially announced by either Washington or Jakarta.

BAE begins construction of second QE class aircraft carrier

GLASGOW (BNS , Brahmand): BAE System has begun the construction on the HMS Prince of Wales, the second of the two new Queen Elizabeth (QE)Class aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy, the company announced Thursday.

The first steel cutting ceremony took place at the Govan shipyard of the BAE Systems, marking a pivotal stage in the programme to deliver the nation's flagships.

"We are committed to deliver this next generation of powerful British aircraft carriers that will mark a step change in our carrier strike capability and form the cornerstone of the Royal Navy's Future Force 2020," Secretary of State for Defence, Dr Liam Fox said.

BAE Systems in partnership with Babcock, Thales and the Ministry of Defence is constructing the biggest and powerful surface warships of UK.

Construction on the first of class HMS Queen Elizabeth underway at six shipyards across the country, including BAE Systems in Glasgow and Portsmouth, Appledore, Merseyside, Newcastle and the final assembly will take place at Rosyth.

France, Russia to sign warship deal before Putin's June visit - Sarkozy

France and Russia should sign a contract on four Mistral class helicopter carriers for Russia before June 21, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is to visit France, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Thursday.
"We have agreed everything with President Medvedev - the price, the timeframe, the transfer of technology, and the construction site," Sarkozy said.
"Contract negotiations are over; it only remains to decide when this contract will be signed: The deadline is June 21 because this is when Prime Minister Putin will come to Paris."
Medvedev and Sarkozy agreed earlier on Thursday that a contract will be signed within 15 days

"We have reached a final agreement that this contract will be signed in 15 days. Two helicopter carriers will be built in France and two more in Russia," Sarkozy said after talks with Medvedev.
Russia and France in January signrd an intergovernmental agreement to build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers at the STX shipyard in Saint-Nazaire, France. Another two are planned to be constructed later at Admiralty Shipyards in St. Petersburg.
However, contract talks stumbled over Russia's demand for the transfer of sensitive electronic systems. Mistral ships are equipped with a NATO-standard SENIT-9 naval tactical data system and SIC-21 fleet command system.
It is not clear yet whether France has agreed to include the technology in the deal.
A Mistral-class ship is capable of carrying 16 helicopters, four landing vessels, 70 armored vehicles, and 450 personnel.
France has two Mistral class amphibious assault ships in service and is building a third one.
 (RIA Novosti)

May 26, 2011

Russian shipyard lays down new corvette

(RIA Novosti) - St. Petersburg's Severnaya Verf shipyard on Thursday started construction of a new corvette for the Russian Navy.
The project 20385 corvette is a larger and improved version of the Steregushchy class corvette. It uses stealth technology to reduce the ship's secondary radar field, as well as its acoustic, infrared, magnetic and visual signatures.
"It is a fundamentally new ship for the Russian Navy; its performance and combat power surpass other ships of the same class," Severnaya Verf said in a statement.
Severnaya Verf is currently fulfilling 75 percent of state orders for the construction of warships for all four Russian fleets.
The shipyard has four Steregushchy class corvettes, two Admiral Gorshkov class frigates and a Project 18280 intelligence ship.
Severnaya Verf is also fulfilling orders to upgrade four Koni class frigates for the Algerian navy.

France and UK Deploy Attack Helicopters to Libya

       Just Another Step Closer to Boots on the Ground in Libya?
(defpro) : While NATO and allied Arab forces continue to apply strong military pressure to Kadhafi’s forces along the Western coast of Libya, France and the UK prepare to deploy additional assets to the operation that are expected to bring a shift in allied tactics. According to French officials, both countries are deploying attack helicopters to provide more flexibility, firepower and precision to airborne operations in Libya.

During the meeting of European Union foreign and defence ministers in Brussels on Monday, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppé announced that France is deploying Tigre and Gazelle attack helicopters to Operation “Harmattan”, as the French codenamed their involvement in the multi-national military operation to enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The attack helicopters will operate from the French Navy’s “Tonnerre” Mistral-class amphibious ship (French: “Bâtiment de Projection et de Commandement”, BPC).

This type of vessel can rapidly deploy a large number of troops, vehicles and helicopters to any coastal area in the world. Thereby, it is a powerful asset for operations abroad. In numbers, it can transport 16 helicopters, four landing barges, up to 70 vehicles including 13 main battle tanks, and 450 soldiers. In addition, the 200 metre-long vessel can accommodate an entire operational headquarters for joint operations, as well as a medical centre. The French Navy currently operates two of these vessels and is in the process of building a third ship of this class, the “Dixmude”.

French media reported that the “Tonnerre” left the French Mediterranean naval base of Toulon on 17 May and is carrying twelve attack helicopters of the French Army Light Aviation (French: « Aviation Légère de l’Armée de Terre”, ALAT). According to AFP, Juppé on Monday said that the French helicopters would enable NATO “to better adapt our ground strike capacity with more precise means of (carrying out) strikes.”

Although attack helicopters might provide greater precision and flexibility in the increasingly complex combat environment in Libya, they are also more vulnerable to close-range air defence weapons and small arms fire than the aircraft that have operated in Libyan skies during the past months. As Kadhafi’s forces might continue their effort to draw the fight into the streets of strategically important towns and cities, the situation would become very dangerous for low-flying attack helicopters or light attack aircraft.

Despite the great blow that has been dealt to the Libyan military, it has primarily affected armoured vehicle units, artillery forces, ships, air defence installations and military facilities, as well as vital supplies. However, the threat that man-portable air defence systems, or MANPADS, could represent to attack helicopters operating in such a hostile and unclear environment should not be underestimated. Further, if a helicopter crew would be shot down over an embattled city, NATO would have to launch a dicey rescue operation; “Black Hawk Down” scenarios automatically suggest themselves to one’s mind – whether plausible or not.

But according to AFP, the French officials are confident that this is exactly the environment in which the Tiger and Gazelle attack helicopters will provide significant support by engaging military assets hidden in urban areas, while avoiding civilian casualties. Combat helicopter operations in Iraq have shown that both are very demanding, dangerous and not always realisable tasks.

Moreover, it is not evident that attack helicopters would help to bring new momentum to the stalled efforts of the opposition forces on the ground. Or is this just another signal that the Coalition might be slowly, but surely, inching towards a situation in which it sees itself forced to deploy ground forces?

If ever boots on the ground are being considered, it should be carried out under a well-designed UN mandate – including the involvement of Russian, Arab and African UN troops to guarantee a politically favourable foundation – and not as a Franco-British venture into an uncertain ground operation, which could thrust the North African country into a Somalia-like condition.

Thus far, the Coalition has been able to annihilate a significant part of Kadhafi’s military, is training opposition forces in the country’s East and is enforcing an arms embargo and a no-fly zone with a considerable fleet of ships and aircraft. According to AFP reports, some 7,900 sorties have been flown by coalition aircraft, including more than 3,000 sorties aimed at identifying or striking targets, since the beginning of the operation on 31 March.

Nevertheless, opposition forces have not been able to report noteworthy progress in weeks and the strategic as well as humanitarian situation is as lacking in transparency and uncertainty as it was during the first days of the operation.

Meanwhile, NATO aircraft in the early hours of Monday carried out the heaviest attacks since the beginning of the operation against targets in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Some 20 explosions have been reported, including at the Bab Al Aziziyah military camp. NATO confirmed the attack and explained that allied aircraft have targeted a fleet of vehicles at the camp with guided air-to-ground missiles. The official NATO report that has been released this morning explained: “This facility is known to have been active during the initial regime suppression of the population in February 2011 and has remained so ever since, re-supplying the regime forces that have been conducting attacks against innocent civilians.”[1]
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By Nicolas von Kospoth

US, Pakistan Near Open War; Chinese Ultimatum Warns Washington Against Attack

China has officially put the United States on notice that Washington’s planned attack on Pakistan will be interpreted as an act of aggression against Beijing. This blunt warning represents the first known strategic ultimatum received by the United States in half a century, going back to Soviet warnings during the Berlin crisis of 1958-1961, and indicates the grave danger of general war growing out of the US-Pakistan confrontation.
“Any Attack on Pakistan Would be Construed as an Attack on China”
 
Responding to reports that China has asked the US to respect Pakistan’s sovereignty in the aftermath of the Bin Laden operation, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu used a May 19 press briefing to state Beijing’s categorical demand that the “sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan must be respected.” According to Pakistani diplomatic sources cited by the Times of India, China has “warned in unequivocal terms that any attack on Pakistan would be construed as an attack on China.” This ultimatum was reportedly delivered at the May 9 China-US strategic dialogue and economic talks in Washington, where the Chinese delegation was led by Vice Prime Minister Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo. Chinese warnings are implicitly backed up by that nation’s nuclear missiles, including an estimated 66 ICBMs, some capable of striking the United States, plus 118 intermediate-range missiles, 36 submarine-launched missiles, and numerous shorter-range systems. 

Support from China is seen by regional observers as critically important for Pakistan, which is otherwise caught in a pincers between the US and India: “If US and Indian pressure continues, Pakistan can say ‘China is behind us. Don’t think we are isolated, we have a potential superpower with us,’” Talat Masood, a political analyst and retired Pakistani general, told AFP.

The Chinese ultimatum came during the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Gilani in Beijing, during which the host government announced the transfer of 50 state-of-the-art JF-17 fighter jets to Pakistan, immediately and without cost. Before his departure, Gilani had stressed the importance of the Pakistan-China alliance, proclaiming: “We are proud to have China as our best and most trusted friend. And China will always find Pakistan standing beside it at all times….When we speak of this friendship as being taller than the Himalayas and deeper than the oceans it truly captures the essence of our relationship.” These remarks were greeted by whining from US spokesmen, including Idaho Republican Senator Risch.
The simmering strategic crisis between the United States and Pakistan exploded with full force on May 1, with the unilateral and unauthorized US commando raid alleged to have killed the phantomatic Osama bin Laden in a compound at Abottabad, a flagrant violation of Pakistan’s national sovereignty. The timing of this military stunt designed to inflame tensions between the two countries had nothing to do with any alleged Global War on Terror, and everything to do with the late March visit to Pakistan of Prince Bandar, the Saudi Arabian National Security Council chief. This visit had resulted in a de facto alliance between Islamabad and Riyadh, with Pakistan promising troops to put down any US-backed color revolution in the kingdom, while extending nuclear protection to the Saudis, thus making them less vulnerable to US extortion threats to abandon the oil-rich monarchy to the tender mercies of Tehran. A joint move by Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to break out of the US empire, whatever one may think of these regimes, would represent a fatal blow for the fading US empire in South Asia. 

As for the US claims concerning the supposed Bin Laden raid of May 1, they are a mass of hopeless contradictions which changes from day to day. An analysis of this story is best left to literary critics and writers of theatrical reviews. The only solid and uncontestable fact which emerges is that Pakistan is the leading US target — thus intensifying the anti-Pakistan US policy which has been in place since Obama’s infamous December 2009 West Point speech. 

Gilani: Full Force Retaliation to Defend Pakistan’s Strategic Assets
 
The Chinese warning to Washington came on the heels of Gilani’s statement to the Pakistan Parliament declaring: “Let no one draw any wrong conclusions. Any attack against Pakistan’s strategic assets, whether overt or covert, will find a matching response…. Pakistan reserves the right to retaliate with full force. No one should underestimate the resolve and capability of our nation and armed forces to defend our sacred homeland.” A warning of full force retaliation from a nuclear power such as Pakistan needs to be taken seriously, even by the hardened aggressors of the Obama regime. 

The strategic assets Gilani is talking about are the Pakistani nuclear forces, the key to the country’s deterrent strategy against possible aggression by India, egged on by Washington in the framework of the US-India nuclear cooperation accord. The US forces in Afghanistan have not been able to conceal their extensive planning for attempts to seize or destroy Pakistan’s nuclear bombs and warheads. According to a 2009 Fox News report, “The United States has a detailed plan for infiltrating Pakistan and securing its mobile arsenal of nuclear warheads if it appears the country is about to fall under the control of the Taliban, Al Qaeda or other Islamic extremists.” This plan was developed by General Stanley McChrystal when he headed the US Joint Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. JSOC, the force reportedly involved in the Bin Laden operation. is composed of Army Delta Force, Navy SEALs and “a high-tech special intelligence unit known as Task Force Orange.” “Small units could seize [Pakistan’s nukes], disable them, and then centralize them in a secure location,” claimed a source quoted by Fox.

Obama Has Already Approved Sneak Attack on Pakistan’s Nukes
 
According to the London Sunday Express, Obama has already approved an aggressive move along these lines: “US troops will be deployed in Pakistan if the nation’s nuclear installations come under threat from terrorists out to avenge the killing of Osama Bin Laden… The plan, which would be activated without President Zardari’s consent, provoked an angry reaction from Pakistan officials… Barack Obama would order troops to parachute in to protect key nuclear missile sites. These include the air force’s central Sargodha HQ, home base for nuclear-capable F-16 combat aircraft and at least 80 ballistic missiles.” According to a US official, “The plan is green lit and the President has already shown he is willing to deploy troops in Pakistan if he feels it is important for national security.” 

Extreme tension over this issue highlights the brinksmanship and incalculable folly of Obama’s May 1 unilateral raid, which might easily have been interpreted by the Pakistanis as the long-awaited attack on their nuclear forces. According to the New York Times, Obama knew very well he was courting immediate shooting war with Pakistan, and “insisted that the assault force hunting down Osama bin Laden last week be large enough to fight its way out of Pakistan if confronted by hostile local police officers and troops.” 

The Shooting Has Already Started
 
The shooting between US and Pakistani forces escalated on Tuesday May 17, when a US NATO helicopter violated Pakistani airspace in Waziristan. Pakistani forces showed heightened alert status, and opened fire immediately, with the US helicopter shooting back. Two soldiers at a Pakistani check post on the border in the Datta Khel area were wounded.
Possible Pakistani retaliation for this border incursion came in Peshawar on Friday, May 20, when a car bomb apparently targeted a 2-car US consulate convoy, but caused no American deaths or injuries. One Pakistani bystander was killed, and several wounded. In other intelligence warfare, Ary One television reported the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad, the second top US resident spook there to have his cover blown in six months. 
 
US Envoy Grossman Rejects Pakistani Calls To Stop Border Violations
US Special Representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan Marc Grossman, the replacement for the late Richard Holbrooke, on May 19 arrogantly rejected Pakistani calls for guarantees that no more Abottabad-style unilateral operations would be mounted in Pakistan. In refusing to offer such assurances, Grossman claimed that Pakistani officials had never demanded respect for their border in recent years.
In the midst of this strategic crisis, India has gone ahead with inherently provocative scheduled military maneuvers targeting Pakistan. This is the “Vijayee Bhava” (Be Victorious) drill, held in the Thar desert of north Rajastan,. This atomic-biological-chemical Blitzkrieg drill involves the Second Armored Corps, “considered to be the most crucial of the Indian Army’s three principal strike formations tasked with virtually cutting Pakistan in two during a full-fledged war.” 

The Nation: A CIA-RAW-Mossad Pseudo-Taliban Countergang
 
One way to provide the provocation needed to justify a US-Indian attack on Pakistan would be through an increase in terrorist actions attributable to the so-called Taliban. According to the mainstream Pakistani media, the CIA, the Israeli Mossad, and the Indian RAW (Research and Analysis Wing) have created their own version of the Taliban in the form of a terrorist countergang which they control and direct. According to one account, “Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives have infiltrated the Taliban and Al-Qaeda networks, and have created their own Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) force in order to destabilize Pakistan.” The former Punjab Regional Commander of the Pakistani Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), retired Brigadier General Aslam Ghuman, commented: “During my visit to the US, I learned that the Israeli spy agency Mossad, in connivance with Indian agency RAW, under the direct supervision of CIA, planned to destabilize Pakistan at any cost.” Was this countergang responsible for last week’s double bombing in Waziristan, which killed 80 paramilitary police?
According to the same account, Russian intelligence “disclosed that CIA contractor Raymond Davis and his network had provided Al-Qaeda operatives with chemical, nuclear and biological weapons, so that US installations may be targeted and Pakistan be blamed….” Davis, a JSOC veteran himself, was arrested for the murder of two ISI agents, but then released by the Pakistani government after a suspicious hue and cry by the State Department. 

CIA Claims The New Al Qaeda Boss Lives in Waziristan
 
If the US needs a further pretext for additional raids, it will also be easy to cite the alleged presence in Waziristan of Saif al-Adel, now touted by the CIA as bin Laden’s likely successor as boss of al Qaeda. It is doubtless convenient for Obama’s aggressive intentions that Saif al-Adel can be claimed to reside so close to what is now the hottest border in the world, and not in Finsbury or Flatbush. 

In the wake of the unauthorized May 1 US raid, the Pakistani military chief General Kayani had issued his own warning that similar “misadventures” could not be repeated, while announcing that US personnel inside Pakistan would be sharply reduced. In the estimate of one ISI source, there are currently about 7,000 CIA operatives in country, many of them unknown to the Pakistani government. US-Pakistan intelligence sharing has reportedly been downgraded. In response to Kayani’s moves, the CIA limited hangout operation known as Wikileaks once again showed its real nature by attempting to discredit the Pakistan commander with dubious US cable reports that he had demanded more Predator drone attacks, not fewer, in recent years. 

Especially since Obama’s West Point speech, the CIA has used Predator drone attacks to slaughter civilians with the goal of fomenting civil war inside Pakistan, leading to a breakup of the country along the ethnic lines of Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan, and Pushtunistan. The geopolitical goal is to destroy Pakistan’s potential to be the energy corridor between Iran and China. Selig Harrison has emerged as a top US advocate for Baluchistan succession. 

Since May 1, six reported US Predator drones attacks have slain some 42 Pakistani civilians, goading public opinion into a frenzy of anti-US hatred. In response, a joint session of the Pakistani parliament voted unanimously on May 14 to demand an end to American missile strikes, calling on the government to cut NATO’s supply line to Afghanistan if the attacks should continue. Since the Karachi to Khyber Pass supply line carries as much as two thirds of the supplies needed by the Afghanistan invaders, such a cutoff would cause chaos among the NATO forces. All of this points to the inherent insanity of provoking war with the country your supply line runs through. 

US Wants to Use Taliban Boss Mullah Omar Against Pakistan
 
The State Department dropped all preconditions for negotiating with the Taliban back in February, and the US is now reported by the Washington Post to be talking with envoys of Mullah Omar, the legendary one-eyed leader of the Quetta Shura or Taliban ruling council. It is apparent that the US is offering the Taliban an alliance against Pakistan. US regional envoy Grossman is hostile to the Pakistanis, but when it comes to the Taliban he has been nicknamed “Mr. Reconciliation.” By contrast, the US is said to be determined to assassinate the head of the Haqqani network using a Bin Laden-type raid. The Pakistanis are equally determined to keep the Haqqani as an ally. 

If China stands behind Pakistan, then Russia might be said to stand behind China. Looking forward to the upcoming June 15 meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, Chinese President Hu praised Sino-Russian relations as being “at an unprecedented high point,” with an “obvious strategic ingredient.” In a press conference this week, Russian President Medvedev was obliged indirectly to acknowledge that the much-hyped Obama “reset” with Russia had amounted to very little, since the US ABM missile program in Romania and the rest of eastern Europe, so obviously directed against Russia, means that the START treaty is of dubious value, thus raising the specter of a “new Cold War.” Given the NATO assault on Libya, there would be no UN resolution against Syria, said Medvedev. Putin has been right all along, and Medvedev is trying to imitate Putin to salvage some chance of remaining in power. 

Are We in July 1914?
 
The crisis leading to World War I began with the Sarajevo assassinations of June 28, 1914, but the first major declaration of war did not occur until August 1. In the interim month of July 1914, large parts of European public opinion retreated into a dreamlike trance, an idyllic la-la land of elegiac illusion, even as the deadly crisis gathered momentum. Something similar can be seen today. Many Americans fondly imagine that the alleged death of Bin Laden marks the end of the war on terror and the Afghan War. Instead, the Bin Laden operation has clearly ushered in a new strategic emergency. Forces which had opposed the Iraq war, from MSNBC to many left liberals of the peace movement, are variously supporting Obama’s bloody aggression in Libya, or even celebrating him as a more effective warmonger than Bush-Cheney because of his supposed success at the expense of Bin Laden. In reality, if there were ever a time to mobilize to stop a new and wider war, this is it.
(paktribune)

Webster G. Tarpley

Yantar shipyard prepared Indian frigate for launching

  Solemn launching ceremony of INS Trikand ("Bow") will be held on May 25.

(Rusnavy) : This is the third Project 11356 frigate built by JSC Yantar shipyard (member of JSC United Shipbuilding Corporation, USC) for Indian Navy. First frigate of this series was launched on Nov 27, 2009; the second one – on June 23, 2010. The yard's major efforts are focused on construction of these ships. Kaliningrad shipbuilders perform works along with contractors from other Russian regions and Ukraine. This project has substantially promoted and strengthened the shipyard's foreign cooperation strategy. For the first time Russian-build ships will be armed with BrahMos cruise missiles – the result of fruitful consolidation of Russian and Indian technological capabilities.

Indian ambassador to Russia Mr. Malhotra, directors of United Shipbuilding Corporation, Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Dept, and Rosoboronexport will arrive in Kaliningrad to attend the launching ceremony.

Reference 

Project 11356 frigate is designed for ocean- and sea-zone combat operations, search and destruction of enemy submarines, antiship/antisubmarine/antiaircraft warfare at sea, delivering strikes upon sea surface targets, supporting of coastal warfare and landing operations.

France to offer bigger Scorpenes for $5 billion Indian submarine order

(IndiaToday) :  France will offer India a bigger version of its Scorpene conventional diesel-electric (SSK) submarine for a $5 billion (Rs 30,000 crore) contract for six submarines. This is the world's largest order for conventional submarines.
Stating this, Patrick Boissier, Chairman and CEO of French shipbuilder DCNS, confirmed that the design of the existing Scorpene submarine could be lengthened with the addition of more sections including Air Independent Propulsion (AIP).
Boissier was part of the trade delegation visiting New Delhi with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. India is already building six Scorpene submarines at the state-owned Mazagon Docks Ltd under a Rs 18,000-crore contract signed with France in 2005.
Last year, the Indian Navy sought global Requests for Information (RFIs) from global vendors for six Project 75I class submarines independent of the 2005 contract.
DCNS responded to the Navy RFI last September. Next year, the Navy is to issue its Request for Proposals (RFPs), which will define the size of the submarine and other critical parameters. Naval officials say a contract for the first P75I could be signed around 2012-13.
The Project 75I submarines are expected to be bigger than the 1800-ton Scorpene class and call for the fitment of AIP systems allowing greater underwater endurance and land-attack missiles.
Indian Navy officials say a commonality of components will mean the second line of six Scorpenes will be cheaper than any competitor, though it is unclear what the quantum of these savings will be. The first two submarines are to be built in the foreign shipyard that wins the contract, the next three at MDL and the last one at the Hindustan Shipyard Limited, recently acquired by the defence ministry.
The submarines are to be built simultaneously in India and abroad to ensure speedy induction into the fleet. This is because the Navy is faced with a fast shrinking submarine arm. It has not added a new submarine in a decade. From 18 submarines in 2000, the Navy is down to 14 and will start retiring the first of its 10 Russian-built Kilo class vessels from 2015 onwards. The Scorpene submarine programme has been delayed by four years. The first submarine is now expected to join the Navy only by 2015.
India's long-term submarine building programme, conceived in the mid-1990s, envisaged the building of 24 submarines over the next two decades.

May 25, 2011

Russia’s new Armada

 (Russia & India Report ) :  The Russian Army will receive new Armada battle tanks in 2015. These tanks are to replace the T-90s currently in service as the Armed Forces’ main battle tanks, said Lieutenant General Yury Kovalenko, former First Deputy Head of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Automotive Armor Directorate.
“From 2015 the Army will see a new tank come into service, with fundamentally new specifications: a new automatic loader, and separate crew and ammo compartments,” the General said.

This new tank will be an upgraded version of the T-90. The T-90’s predecessor, the legendary T-72, remains Russia’s main export-oriented tank and was a tank industry trendsetter. The T-72 has a 125-mm cannon and a carousel automatic loader with 22 rounds. This loader was also used in the T-90.

However, even though the T-90 is rightfully acknowledged as being the most modern tank in service, it has its limits.

“The T-90 is a good tank but it no longer completely meets current operational requirements,” said Ruslan Pukhov, a member of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Public Council. “In terms of armor protection, firepower and several other parameters, the T-90 is inferior to its competition in the West. Consequently, the Defense Ministry does not see any reason to buy them in large numbers.”

Russia’s defense industry developed the T-90AM Armada tank in response to the Defense Ministry stated needs. Factoring in all the ministry’s requirements, this new tank features an engine that is 130 h. p. more powerful, a re-designed cannon and a new protected machine-gun unit.

It is thought that the Armada will enable Russia to retain its leading position on the global tank market. All the Defense Ministry’s requirements concerning communications systems, armor protection and gun-sights were taken into account.

“The industry must heed the criticism leveled at it by the Defense Ministry and draw the relevant conclusions,” said Igor Korotchenko, director of the Center for Analysis of World Arms Trade.  He added that the Armada could be seen as being the first phase of response to this criticism. This new tank will be unveiled at the arms fair in Nizhny Tagil.

The Russian Army currently boasts about 10,000 tanks, of which just 10-12% could be considered truly modern. A few years ago Russia had 23,000 tanks, while the Soviet Union had over 60,000. General Kovalenko said “even 10,000 tanks is a bit over the top, there should be some rationalization here.” The new T-90AM should go some way to realizing this goal. Some analysts believe that tougher Defense Ministry requirements and a reluctance to buy outdated military hardware have spurred the defense industry’s development. For example, the industry is currently working with scientists to develop a standardized platform for future tank models.

Russian Helicopters to be assembled in India

(India & Russia Report ) : The MiG setback has been a humbling experience for Russian defence contractors. Now, the Russian Helicopter company is sweetening the deal by offering local production in the race for three Indian tenders worth $4 bn .
The Russian defence contractors have been trying to rid themselves of the arrogance that cost them major tenders for supplying MiG-35 fighters to India and T-90 tanks to Thailand.

In a move unprecedented in the country’s history, the Russian Helicopters, JSC announced it was ready to establish manufacturing of military equipment in India with the right to re-export to third countries. The helicopter builders are thus trying to gain the upper hand in three tenders for supplying the Indian Air Force with light highlander choppers, cargo carriers, and assault helicopters worth more than $4 billion in total.

“We may do the final assembly in India and enter other markets from the Indian market base,” Andrei Reus, CEO of United Industrial Corporation Oboronprom, said. The Russian Helicopters, JSC, an Oboronprom subsidiary, is responsible for the design and manufacturing of all helicopters in Russia.

India’s market is of strategic importance for Russian Helicopters Andrei Reus added: "This is a strategic market for us and the most dense in terms of the number of tenders in which we compete”, he noted.

Reus believes that the chances of the Russian company winning all those tenders are quite high, because their equipment meets the Indian party’s requirements. He also pointed out that India had the necessary infrastructure and trained personnel for operating Russian-made helicopters.

Rosoboronexport, Oboronprom’s parent company, is participating in three tenders organised by India’s Ministry of Defence for supplying helicopters of various classes. The biggest one, for light helicopters to be used in high-altitude mountain areas, envisages supplying the Indian Air Force with 197 helicopters worth $2 bn. Kamov’s Ka-226Ts are competing there against the AS-550 from Eurocopter, as well as the A-109 and A-119 from Augusta Westland. In another tender, for 22 assault helicopters valued at $1.4 bn, the Russian-made Mi-28NE is bidding against the American AH-64D Apache Longbow Block III. Finally, a $700 mn contract for 15 heavy cargo helicopters is up in the air between the Mi-26T2 and the CH-47F Chinook from the US competing for it.

The tenders were announced in 2008–2009 and the results are expected in 2011. With this sort of competition, it is only natural for the Russian company to want to better its chance by offering the customer joint production and sweetening the deal with the right to export the output to third countries.

This is unprecedented for Russia. In Soviet history, there was only one instance when, in 1964, Poland received a licence for Mi-2 production. Russian defence industrialists believe the plans to establish production in India with the right to re-export should be a substantial argument in favour of the Russian machines participating in the tender.

It was aircraft makers, namely RSK MiG, that suffered the latest major defeat on Russia’s biggest equipment export market. They presented their most advanced generation 4++ MiG-35 fighter jet for an Indian tender. Throughout the years of selection, Moscow exuded total confidence that the MiG-35 was a sure bet in the competition for the over $10 bn contract. They were so smug that the MiG-35 was the only competitor not even to attend the purchasing country’s main aviation show, Aero India-2011 in Bangalore. Indian government representatives officially stated that not only had they tried to discover, through their ambassador in Moscow, the reasons for the no-show, but had also attempted to persuade Russia to send the plane, but all in vain. Eventually, the MiG-35, which had the advantage of a lower price than its competitors, lost to the European-made Eurofighter Typhoon and Dassault Rafale.

At the same time, the Indian Armed Forces have become virtually the main export market for Russian military equipment, especially since the Chinese customers, having copied numerous models, have switched from purchasing Russian machines to producing their own. According to the Centre for Analysis of the World Arms Trade, the ability to market their equipment abroad gives Russian defence contractors an opportunity to manufacture the most advanced tanks, helicopters, and aircraft to meet their own army’s needs. For example, a contract with New Delhi for 126 MiGs would have permitted a significant reduction in the fighter’s domestic price thanks to economies of scale in production. Now the manufacturing of a relatively small number to meet the Russian Air Force’s needs has become economically unfeasible and those plans are likely to be scrapped.

The Indian customers’ choices are also heavily influenced by a desire to diversify the sources of their weapons supplies; at present, India already receives a significant portion of its military equipment from Russia. In addition, the results of the three tenders may also be affected by a certain change in the Indian Armed Forces’ equipment priorities. In the past, New Delhi was pursuing a technologically “cheap” military. As a supplier, Moscow fit the bill ideally, as it always offered the simplest and cheapest weapons around. The Indian military has now realigned itself towards the most expensive and technologically advanced offerings. That said, the Moscow Centre for Strategic and Technology Analysis believes that it is impossible to predict exactly how the offer of local production of Russian Helicopters, JSC will affect the chances.

In 2010, Russian Helicopters, JSC factories manufactured 214 helicopters; plans for 2011 include 267 machines and, in 2012, the number is expected to exceed 300 units.

"Currently, Russian Helicopters has government orders for 461 machines. There are also, however, so-called quasi-hard contracts, i.e., ones that have not yet been signed for a complete armaments programme. Once all contracts are signed, the orders will top 1,500", the Oboronprom CEO said.

He added that the potential order portfolio was already six times the 2010 level, when 214 helicopters were built.

Dmitry Petrov, the CEO of the Russian Helicopters, JSC says that, in 2010, his company produced up to 10% of all helicopters manufactured worldwide. The same year, the holding’s companies brought Russia’s share up to 14% of the helicopter market in dollar terms, while Russian-made helicopters account for approximately 13% of the total global helicopter fleet, the CEO pointed out. He added that his holding was the number one supplier to the markets of Russia, the CIS, India, and China. On the Russian and CIS markets, domestically manufactured helicopters account for 87% of the fleet in dollar terms.

India to boost 'blue-water' warfare punch with two new stealth frigates

(Times of India) : The Navy continues to hone its war-fighting capabilities despite being stretched in coastal security and anti-piracy operations. The force is now on course to soon induct two more deadly stealth frigates to bolster its growing "blue-water" warfare capabilities.

Sources say the 6,200-tonne indigenous stealth frigate INS Satpura is likely to be commissioned in June-July, while the Russian-built 4,900-tonne INS Teg should finally be ready for induction by September-October.

These long-awaited warships will come at a time when Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma has stressed that "maintenance of war-fighting abilities" remains the "top-most priority" for his force despite the "large number of peacetime commitments (anti-piracy, coastal security and the like) at hand".

"With the security situation being fluid, we need to maintain the organizational ability to deploy warships, submarines and aircraft at immediate notice," said Admiral Verma, at the naval commanders' conference here on Tuesday.

INS Satpura and INS Teg will certainly boost combat capabilities, packed as they are with sensors, weapons and missile systems, coupled with their stealthy nature due to "vastly-reduced" radar, infra-red, noise, frequency and magnetic "signatures" to beat enemy detection systems.

That's not all. INS Satpura, the second of three indigenous stealth frigates built under the Rs 8,101-crore Project-17 at Mazagon Docks, will be followed by INS Sahyadri after six months. The first, INS Shivalik, was commissioned in April last year.

Similarly, INS Teg is to be followed by its sister frigates, INS Tarkash and INS Trikhand, built under a Rs 5,514-crore project inked with Russia in July 2006, after gaps of six months each.

Both the Indian and Russian projects, of course, have been dogged by huge time and cost overruns. The three warships from Russia are actually "a follow-on order" to the first three frigates, INS Talwar, INS Trishul and INS Tabar, inducted by India in 2003-2004 at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore.

Though their induction too was delayed, the Navy is quite happy with the power the Talwar-class frigates pack. The warships have "a very high weapon and sensor density", including eight vertical launch cells for the 'Klub-N' anti-ship and anti-submarine cruise missiles. In addition, the three new frigates will also be armed with the 290-km BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

The Shivalik-class frigates, in turn, can also deal with "multiple-threats" in all three dimensions -- air, surface and sub-surface. Apart from Russian Shtil surface-to-air missile systems and Klub anti-ship cruise missiles, they are also armed with the Israeli 'Barak-I' anti-missile defence systems to guard against Harpoon and Exocet missiles, launched from platforms like P-3C Orion aircraft and Agosta-90B submarines which Pakistan has acquired from US and France.

The defence ministry has also approved Project-17A to construct seven more frigates at Mazagon Docks and GRSE in Kolkata, with even more stealth features, for around Rs 45,000 crore. In all, the Navy has around 30 new warships and six submarines on order as of now to maintain its force-levels at about 140 combatants.

May 24, 2011

Naval base attack raises questions over safety of Pak nukes

(Times of India) :  The Taliban attack on Pakistan's Mehran naval base raises an oft-repeated question: can Pakistan save its nuclear weapons?

Pakistan's nukes evoke a curious reaction -- every leader, in India or US, stress their safety, yet everybody stays up at night wondering whether they are really safe. Pakistan's failure to save its prized maritime reconnaissance aircraft has only deepened the worry.

Rahul Roy Chaudhury of International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London, sums up the fears. "The attack on Mehran, a well-guarded military installation, at a time when Pakistan is on its highest alert status following the Abbottabad raid, raises serious questions over the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets. Not merely weapon storage sites, whose locations may be secure, but more likely, nuclear plants and research facilities whose locations are well known. This could be exacerbated by the passing of 'insider' information on their security systems by employees angered and radicalized by the Abbottabad raid."

How can Pakistan's nukes fall into the wrong hands? Either Taliban/al-Qaida getting a hold of the weapons, jihadis accessing fissile material which could be used to make a "dirty bomb" or, extremist officials within the Pakistani military establishment itself accessing weapons or material.

Taliban/al-Qaida have flirted with the idea of a "dirty bomb" or capturing nuclear assets for some time now. But as strategic experts have said, it's not easy getting a nuclear weapon, leave alone use it. The supporting infrastructure needed is fairly large. George Perkowich of Carnegie wrote, "Pakistan's...nukes are its crown jewels. The army cares about them in ways that it does not about bin Laden's whereabouts or fighting the Haqqani network."

Besides, Pakistan's weapons are not holed up in traditional silos. The military keeps them secret, but they are generally believed to be in storage sites (most probably in Punjab) and not in a high state of alert. Pakistani experts say they are also mobile to keep their locations secret. Shireen Mazari, Pakistani strategic expert, dismissed Taliban takeover fears in a post-Osama briefing. "The nuclear programme has matured, is robust, self-sustaining and widely dispersed." It's well guarded, but after a breach at their naval airbase, the question being asked is, how well is well guarded?

A new danger comes from the sophistication of Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability. In April 2011, Pakistan showed it could build tactical nuclear weapons with NASR. These are low-yield short range plutonium-based weapons and they are mobile. Which can give Pakistan's nuclear capability the jihadi edge, because they can be transported and used easily. The temptation to use them as a terror weapon just got easier.

Pakistan's weapons are controlled by the army's Strategic Plans Division (SPD) under the National Command Authority (NCA). Yet the danger remains of infiltration of the Pakistani military system and legitimate access into nuclear facilities by jihadi elements within. Experts worry that if nuclear weapons are mobile -- say, travelling through Punjab countryside riddled with jihadis -- they may be safe from India or US, but they could be in danger of being "abducted". Scott Sagan, US nuclear expert, laid out a similar scenario, when he was quoted as saying about Pakistan feeling "compelled to take their weapons out of the base, put them with their missiles on their launchers and move them to the countryside" for any reason. "That makes them more vulnerable to terrorist seizure by an outside group or an insider group collaborating with the terrorist groups."

That is the outside world's greatest fear. Since 9/11, the US government has apparently given $100 million (perhaps more) to help Pakistan build stronger protection of its nuclear weapons. But apparently the Pakistan government refused the US permission to design electronic locks ("permissive action links" in nuclear jargon) for the weapons, fearing US infiltration into their security. Pakistani officials over the years have stated that they have developed these themselves.