August 30, 2014

Iron Dome knocks down 15 rockets simultaneously

 Incredible footage has emerged showing Israel's Iron Dome air defence system simultaneously shooting down 15 rockets fired by Palestinian militants. The video clip, which was uploaded to YouTube by the pro-Israel group 'Sin', was filmed in an unknown location close to the Israeli border with Gaza.

VIDEO CLIP URL : [ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f2aNNdEzs-Y ]

It is believed that the militants who fired the rockets were attempting to beat the Iron Dome by launching multiple missiles in one short burst in the hope that at least one may make it through.

Iron Dome has been regularly called into use during the recent seven-week-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, intercepting roughly 90 per cent of the hundreds of rockets fired by Gaza-based militants - the vast majority of them aimed at densely populated areas of southern Israel.

The video clip begins with a scene of panic as Israeli citizens run for shelter while the terrifying sound of air raid sirens rings out in the air.

Several seconds later the familiar sight of multiple Qassam rockets emerge on the skyline - fired from inside Gaza by Palestinian militants affiliated with the Islamic organisation Hamas.

As the rockets enter air space directly above the amateur filmmaker - who appears to have used a mobile phone to shoot the footage - the explosive sound of reactive Iron Dome interceptor missiles being launched can be heard. Within seconds all 15 of the potentially deadly Qassam rockets are seen breaking up in mid-air as they are struck by missiles fired by the high-tech Israeli air defence system.

The Iron Dome has been used by Israel since 2011, having originally been developed to protect Israel from rockets fired by Lebanon's Hezbollah Islamist group. During the 2006 Second Lebanon War, approximately 4,000 Hezbollah-fired rockets landed in northern Israel - including on Haifa, the country's third largest city.

These rockets killed 44 Israeli citizens and forced a further 250,000 to flee their homes.
Partly funded by the U.S., Iron Dome was finally declared operational and initially deployed on 27 March 2011 near Beersheba. Within days the system was forced to contend with the first rockets fired from within the Gaza Strip by Hamas-affiliated militants.

Designed to shoot down short range rockets and artillery shells from the air from distances of 2.5 to 43 miles, the Iron Dome has since had to contend with thousands of rockets fired from the Palestinian territory, with the Israeli military estimating a success rate of roughly 90 per cent.

The Qassam rockets fired by Gaza-based fighters are basic steel artillery shells developed and deployed in 2001 by the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades - the military arm of Hamas.

In contrast to the highly expensive weapons used by many armed groups, the materials used in a Qassam rocket rarely cost more than £500 - allowing them to be produced and deployed quickly.

During the recent Israeli-Palestinian conflict it is been estimated that rockets have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel roughly every hour.

Militants typically fire several missiles in quick succession, in the hope that the barrage will confuse or overload the Iron Dome and at least one rocket will make it through.

Although the Iron Dome intercepts about 90 per cent of the rockets, those that do penetrate the system often strike densely populated areas, causing extensive property damage.


High-end defence technology cooperation possible with Japan: PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India sees possibility of a new era of cooperation with Japan in high-end defence technology and equipment and noted that progress has been made in parleys on civil nuclear agreement and amphibious aircraft deal between them.
"In the field of defence and security, I feel time has come for us to upgrade our relations. I see in the recent changes in Japan's defence export policies and regulations a possibility to engage in a new era of cooperation in high-end defence technology and equipment."There has been significant progress in our negotiations on the civil nuclear agreement; on the US-2 amphibian aircraft; and in the field of high speed railway. It is my hope that my visit this time will pave the way for concrete cooperation on these fields," he said while interacting with the Japanese media.
India is planning to sign a deal with Japan for procuring US-2 amphibious seaplanes for guarding its island territories and also wants to co-produce it in India.
Expressing happiness at Japan's participation in the Indo-US Malabar naval exercise, the prime minister said, "We have a shared interest in working together with Japan and with other countries, to foster peace and stability in Asia and beyond. We are committed to strengthen defence exchanges and cooperation between Japan and India."
He said the "two sides will strengthen defence exchanges at all levels and continue to hold naval exercises with regular frequency."


Let’s talk transfer of technology

 India must insist on co-development and co-production of defence systems that it plans to buy from the U.S.

It is good that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Defence Minister Arun Jaitley have made it clear to the U.S. Defence Minister, Chuck Hagel, who was in India earlier this month, that the pure sale of defence hardware by the U.S. to India is far from enough.

The way we should go with the Americans has to be on the lines of the co-development and co-production of the state-of-the-art Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) with the Russians.
However, India, which agreed to buy 39 AH-64D Apache helicopters for the Army in addition to the 22 now under negotiation, is in talks again for purchase by the Indian Air Force (IAF) from the U.S. manufacturer, Boeing. This is being done without transfer of technology (TOT) to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the local manufacture of all these 61 helicopters, which is bad for the country. Such a number of helicopters, senior managers and engineers of HAL’s Helicopter Division argue forcefully, is large enough for substantial local content-based production. Neither the IAF nor the Army contracts with Boeing has gone so far as to make TOT result in techno-commercially viable production here feasible and viable. The Ministry of Defence should act immediately to tie-up such TOT-based production by HAL instead of proceeding with mere import of the finished product.
Defence supplies by the U.S.

Will the U.S. government agree? If we use the multi-billion U.S. dollar value of the two contracts as leverage and exert pressure, they will have to. This would mean new jobs for HAL and its sub-contractors. It would also mean we would have a nationally controlled spares production base in the country, which would be orders of magnitude cheaper than supply of spares from the U.S. The bread and butter for the supplier come from hugely priced spares; not from the main equipment.
If one were to analyse defence supplies by U.S. companies under the U.S. government’s direction and control even to their “closest allies” such as the U.K., one would find that it is the policy of the U.S. government to severely restrict not only TOT in general, but transfer of technology relating to critical sub-assemblies, modules and components too, making us eternally dependent on them.
A specific case will illustrate the reality. The case pertains to the Sea Harrier, which is aircraft carrier-borne and uses vertical take off and landing (VTOL). The U.K. was the inventor of VTOL technology. India had bought two squadrons (around 30 aircraft) of the Sea Harrier from the British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) way back in the 1970s for its aircraft carriers. When the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led National Democratic Alliance government was in power (1999-2004), we sent our Sea Harriers to the BAC for a thorough upgrade. At that time, the Ministry of Defence, the Navy and the BAC knew that such an upgrade would call for the BAC importing some critical sub-systems, modules and components (hereafter collectively referred to as “modules”) from the U.S. This was because those modules had been imported by the BAC even for the Sea Harriers it had produced in the U.K. and supplied to the British Navy.
That the U.S. government would prove “difficult” in clearing the supply of those modules for our Sea Harriers was recognised by both the BAC and the Defence Ministry. So they sounded out the U.S. government agencies concerned. The U.S. response was non-committal. Nevertheless, the Ministry went ahead. Why? Because we did not have an option. Over 25 years, the Indian Navy operated those aircraft, but no effort was made to successfully indigenise those modules. We just merrily went along with importing those modules from the BAC, which in turn kept importing them from the U.S. companies concerned at huge increases in prices from time to time.
It was not surprising, therefore, that the U.S. government refused the supplies to the BAC for fitment on our Sea Harriers. The BAC and the British Navy then told India that the U.S. government had done likewise, even in regard to the Harriers of the British Navy despite the U.K. being the country’s “closest ally.”
The U.S. government finally agreed to the export of the modules concerned, but only after former British Prime Minister Tony Blair flew to Washington D.C. to specifically persuade the U.S. President to release them. As far as our requirements of the modules were concerned, Mr. Vajpayee had done something similar.
This case shows how even British and European defence equipment manufacturers have to constantly face and deal with the U.S. government’s export controls on them on a wide array of modules, despite the fact that all of them are supposedly equal members of NATO.
Being circumspect in dealings

This kind of policy and practice by the U.S. government also came up with regard to the “upgraded” F-16 Falcon and the F-18 Hornet fighter-bombers which Lockheed Martin and Boeing respectively had offered India against the global tender put out by the Ministry of Defence/IAF for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) four years ago. Of all the six bidders, the TOT and terminal local content were the smallest in the case of both the U.S. planes. Therefore we have to be extremely circumspect in dealing with the U.S. government in all high technology defence systems from the transfer of technology and local production content points of view. 

The Hindu

Govt clears defence deals worth Rs 17,000 cr

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has made its first big decisions on equipping the forces, clearing acquisitions and renewals worth Rs 17,000 crore on Friday.

The apex Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which met at New Delhi to clear the purchases, emphatically favoured manufacturing in India, even when clearing the procurement of foreign equipment. A long-running tender for buying 197 light utility helicopters (LuH) from the global market has been scrapped, and re-issued in the "Buy & Make (Indian)" category. This requires Indian companies to build the LuH in India, in collaboration, if necessary, with foreign partners.

"In accordance with the government's policy, this will create manufacturing jobs, benefiting Indian industry to the tune of Rs 40,000 crore", said a MoD official who briefed Business Standard on the outcome of the DAC meeting.Immediately benefiting from this decision will be public sector aerospace behemoth, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which has worked for four years on developing an indigenous LuH. In 2010, the ministry of defence (MoD) had split the military's requirement of 384 LuHs into two - with 197 being procured over-the-counter (now cancelled); and HAL assured an order for 187 helicopters, provided this was developed by 2017.

"We appreciate this decision by the government. It is an important step towards indigenising aerospace capabilities," says RK Tyagi, the HAL chief.

HAL's progress on the LuH has been slowed by difficulties in selecting an engine for the helicopter, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha on August 12.

The emphasis on indigenisation is evident also in the decision to overhaul and refit six of the navy's 13 submarines. The so-called Medium Refit and Life Certificate (MRLC) programme is a two-year process that involves stripping down the submarine, repairing its hull extensively, and replacing worn parts.

The Rs 4,800 crore sanction clears the overhaul of four Russian-origin, Kilo-class, and two German-origin HDW submarines. Of the Kilo-class vessels, two will be refitted in Russia, and the other two in Mumbai naval dockyard. Mazagon Dock Ltd, Mumbai, will overhaul both HDW submarines.Support to the indigenous Arjun main battle tank (MBT) continues, with the DAC renewing a Rs 6,600 crore clearance for 118 Arjun Mark II tanks. This will equip two army tank regiments, adding to an earlier order for 124 Arjun Mark I tanks.

The United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government had already cleared 118 Arjun Mark IIs. That clearance had expired since the army has been evaluating the prototype tank for two years. Friday's renewal allows the army to order the tanks from Heavy Vehicles Factory, Avadi, when trials are completed.

Further support was extended to the Arjun tank project through the clearance of 40 self-propelled artillery guns, worth Rs 820 crore. This gun system, termed a "catapult", consists of a 130-millimetre gun mounted on a Arjun tank chassis, allowing it to keep up with tank columns and provide them fire support in battle.The catapult will be developed by the Central Vehicle R&D Establishment in Chennai, and then offered to the army for trials.

In a decision that will please Washington in the run-up to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit next month, the DAC cleared offset proposals relating to the purchase of two Boeing helicopters - 22 AH-64E Apache attack helicopters; and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters. This removes the last hurdle to signing the two contracts, together estimated to be worth Rs 15,000 crore.

Boeing has declined to comment, but company sources say this is a key step that could allow the contract to be signed by the year-end.

In a clearance critical for the navy's operational readiness, DAC approved the Rs 1,770 crore purchase of Integrated Anti-Submarine Warfare Suites (IADS) for 11 warships - seven frigates being built under Project 17A, and four destroyers being built under Project 15B. As Business Standard first reported (May 16, 2014 "Warships in peril as defence ministry blocks sonar purchase") the MoD had blocked the import of crucial sonars since the late 1990s, rendering 25 major Indian warships, including the INS Kolkata and INS Kamorta, commissioned this month by the prime minister and defence minister respectively - extremely vulnerable to attack by enemy submarines. The navy will also get a relief, with DAC permitting commercial bids to be opened in the Rs 1,800 crore tender for 16 naval multi-role helicopters, which fly from warships and detect enemy submarines. With one of the two vendors - NHIndustries - part-owned by Finmeccanica, now banned, this has the potential for the other vendor, US company, Sikorsky, to win the contract.

Also cleared was a Rs 900 crore dedicated mobile communications system for army troops deployed in Ladakh and the eastern command. Since border areas are poorly covered by commercial mobile service providers, the army intends to establish its own mobile network all along the borders.


Light-utility choppers to be made in India, not imported

 The Modi government on Friday scrapped the long-pending acquisition of 197 light-utility helicopters from abroad, the selection process for which has been dogged by corruption allegations and technical deviations.

Instead, the Arun Jaitley-led defence acquisitions council (DAC) decided all the 384 light-utility helicopters needed by the Army and IAF to replace their ageing Cheetah/Chetak fleets will be made in India with foreign collaboration.

The step will boost the indigenous defence production sector, and is in tune with Modi's exhortation to global companies to "come, make in India". Top defence ministry officials, in fact, said the "buy and make Indian" categorization of the light-utility helicopters had the potential to give Rs 40,000 crore worth of business to the domestic industry.

But, it's equally true that the military's already long wait to replace their virtually obsolete Cheetah/Chetak helicopters, used even in high-altitude areas like Siachen, just got longer. The 197-helicopter deal, which had Russian Kamov-226T and Eurocopter AS 550 C3 Fennec locked in competition since 2008, has now been scrapped for the third time over the last decade due to irregularities.
Defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics has also failed to deliver on its project to develop 187 similar helicopters, which was sanctioned by the Cabinet committee on security in February 2009, in a double whammy for the armed forces.But there was better news on other helicopter fronts, even as the DAC cleared military modernisation proposals worth around Rs 20,000 crore. Ahead of Modi's visit to the US next month, two major deals worth $2.5 billion for the iconic American Apache attack and Chinook heavy-lift helicopters cleared the last hurdle when the DAC approved the revised offsets packages submitted by aviation major Boeing.The $1.4 billion deal for 22 AH-64D Apache Longbow gunships, armed with deadly Hellfire and Stinger missiles, and the $1.1 billion one for 15 CH-47F Chinooks, equipped with powerful contra-rotating tandem rotors, will now have to get the final nod from the finance ministry and then Cabinet committee on security.

The DAC also gave the go-ahead for the opening of commercial bids for the acquisition of 16 naval multi-role helicopters (MRH). It was on hold for long since one of the two contenders in the fray, the European NH-90 helicopter, has Italian conglomerate Finmeccanica as a partner. The other contender is the American Sikorsky-70B chopper.

With the government this week imposing "a partial ban" on Finmeccanica, whose UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland is embroiled in the VVIP helicopter scandal, the NH-90 helicopter may lose out in the 16-MRH contract.

The contract is critical for the Navy, grappling with a crippling shortage of anti-submarine warfare helicopters, since it is to be followed by a bigger one for 123 helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion.

AgustaWestland, whose now infamous Rs 3,546 crore contract for 12 VVIP helicopters was cancelled by India in January, had also initially figured in the 197-helicopter project. The CBI is investigating the role played by an Indian Army brigadier who allegedly demanded money from AgustaWestland to swing the 197-helicopter deal its way as well, as was reported by TOI earlier.
- Timesofindia   

August 28, 2014

Feeling of wartime on India-Pakistan border due to recent skirmishes

The habits of wartime have crept back into life here along the border between India and Pakistan.
In the mornings, villagers stitch up shrapnel wounds on the hides of their water buffalo and climb to the rooftops to examine gouges left by exploding shells. Desperate for a night's sleep, some have descended into concrete-reinforced bunkers that were nearly forgotten after 2003, when the two countries agreed to a ceasefire.

It is not clear what has caused the rise in nightly artillery firing across the border, which intensified in mid-August and, according to officials, has killed two Indian civilians and four Pakistani civilians, and injured dozens more. On Wednesday, there was hope that a de-escalation had begun. Two rare nights had passed without gunfire, and junior commanders from both countries met in a first step toward bringing down tensions.

Each side blames the other for shooting first: Indian officials say Pakistani rangers are launching the attacks to provide cover for militants hoping to cross into India. Pakistani officials say the Indians are firing without provocation, perhaps to retaliate for Pakistani successes against Afghan-based militants who, they claim, are supported by India.
The crisis comes at a moment of shifting policy in each of the nuclear-armed neighbors. India's new prime minister, Narendra Modi, this month abruptly canceled talks with Pakistan to protest its contact with separatists in Jammu & Kashmir, and his national security adviser is a counter-terrorism specialist well known for his hawkish stance. The United States' pullout from Afghanistan looms in the months ahead, a shift that some Indian analysts fear will swing militants' focus toward India.

Meanwhile, Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, has squabbled with Pakistani military leaders over policy toward India. Sharif wants to build business ties between the two countries to stimulate Pakistan's ailing economy. But the generals, who have a long history of wrecking civilian-led peace initiatives, have resisted - a possible factor, analysts say, in the increased shelling.

Stephen P Cohen, who last year published a book on the India-Pakistan conflict, said that border exchanges like this one have repeatedly led the two countries to the brink of conflict and that it is all but impossible to trace their origins.

"On one or the other side, a local commander gets a little nervous and starts firing at what he thinks is someone crossing over," he said. "Or, secondly, a local commander could be ambitious. Or, thirdly, you could have a deliberate policy choice by the government on either side."
This section of the 1,800-mile border between India and Pakistan runs through rich farmland, close enough for workers to look up at the enemy watchtowers from their rice paddies. Civilians here are becoming accustomed to small-arms fire, but in recent weeks villages have seen nighttime attacks with long-range 81 mm mortars, some of them striking in the heart of residential areas.

The chief of India's Border Security Force, D K Pathak, who made an impromptu visit to the Jammu region on Tuesday, said the exchanges began with Pakistani sniper fire in mid-July, making it the most intense and prolonged stretch since two countries went to war in 1971. This year, he said, "we have been told very clearly to respond appropriately."

"Our response," he said, "will not be less, it will be equal or more. But not less."

Asked what had set off the crisis, he said that he believed militants were gathering on the Pakistani side, waiting for the chance to cross into India.

In Pakistan, Brig Mateen Ahmad Khan, the commander of Chenab Rangers, dismissed that claim, saying the flat, bare terrain in the area made it an unfavorable crossing-point for guerrilla fighters and noting that India has erected a double fence equipped with sound detectors and illuminated after dark.
"There is no jungle, no forest," he said. "Everyone is looking at everyone. Why haven't the Indians killed or captured anyone who is trying to infiltrate? No crosser has been killed. It is simply because there is nothing like that." He also disputed Pathak's claim that the episode began with Pakistani sniper fire.

"These are lame excuses," he said. "They lie with flat faces."

On Wednesday, two nights without firing had allowed some people to relax a little. At a border post on the Pakistani side, an officer of the Chenab Rangers peered through binoculars toward the Indian position half a mile away and spotted a shadow near the pinkish post. He sent out a subordinate to tell a Pakistani farmer to come in from his rice fields.

"He could come under fire," he said. "Tell him to have patience for a few days, until things normalize."

Settlements on both sides remained largely deserted, and those who remained behind were eager to show visitors the punctured ceilings and deeply gouged walls. In Jora Farm, a cattle-herding village about 20 miles south of the city of Jammu, a patch of soft mud covers the spot where Mohammad Akram Hussain and his son, Aslam, who was said to be 6, were killed by a mortar.

Before dawn on Saturday, firing on the village had become so heavy that Hussain, 30, and his family worried that their thatched roof would catch fire, so they crept outside and sat against a wall, thinking it was safer there. The children climbed into the adults' laps.

That is how Hussain and his son were sitting when a mortar round fell about 5 feet away, shearing off part of Hussain's face and slicing through his son's leg and arm, relatives said.
At a funeral gathering this week, elders discussed how to evacuate the whole settlement, 800 people and 5,000 heads of cattle, a measure they have not taken since 1999, when the two armies faced off in a month-long conflict. Salamuddin, an elder who uses one name, said the attacks this month were of the same scale.

"For us, it is a war," he said. "What else worse will we see in a war? Two members of our family have been killed."
-   Times of india

Arun Jaitley to hold first major meeting on defence modernisation, top deals and policy issues to be discussed

More than three months after he took charge of the Defence Ministry, Arun Jaitley is set to have his first major meeting on defence modernisation with several critical deals and contentious policy issues likely to be discussed at a defence acquisition committee (DAC) on Friday.
While the minister has been taking stock of defence matters with several rounds of meetings with bureaucrats and senior ministry officials, Friday's meeting is likely to be of great importance as it will see him taking calls on deals worth over Rs.20,000 crore and discuss issues like rules on the engagement of agents by foreign vendors.
It is believed that two major deals for the air force - a Rs.2,500-crore contract for 15 Chinook Heavy Lift choppers and a Rs.3,100-crore deal for 22 Apache attack choppers - will be put up before the defence minister for approval at the Friday meeting.
The Army, which has been hit by a dire shortage of airlift capabilities with the last government not being able to procure choppers for a decade, is also likely to make a presentation to Jaitley at the meeting on the 197 Light Chopper deal that has been left hanging over the last two years. The deal got stuck after one of the three competitors, AgustaWestland, was under investigation for corruption charges in the VVIP chopper deal.
There is likely to be forward movement on the deal given that the government has on Tuesday notified a new set of rules to be followed when dealing with contracts involving AgustaWestland and Finmeccanica.
According to these rules, procurement cases in which the tainted company was participating will go forward, with the condition that if Agusta wins, it shall not be awarded the deal. In the light chopper case, Agusta has already been eliminated on technical grounds. A decision on the contract will go a long way in helping the Army cope with transportation issues, especially to supply troops on the Siachen Glacier where these choppers are the only lifeline.
Interestingly, the Friday meeting is also likely to discuss the current policies being followed on the engagement of agents by foreign vendors. It may be recalled that the Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh has said in the past that the blacklisting process will be reviewed as it has been hampering acquisitions.
Another critical topic that is likely to be discussed is the procurement of third generation anti-tank guided missiles for the Army. The US, it may be noted, has been making a strong pitch for participating in this programme as a joint development project under the Defence Technology Initiative  and has offered its Javelin missile.
Jaitley, who has taken a special interest in the Navy after taking over by paying several visits to bases on both coasts, is also likely to clear a new project to bolster the underwater fleet that has seen a depletion in capabilities over the past few years. A proposal to give a medium refit to six of the Navy's Kilo-class submarines and to equip some of them with modern sonars is likely to be discussed. This project would cost upwards of Rs.5000 crore, sources indicated.
For the Army, Jaitley is likely to take a final call on the procurement of 118 new Indian-built Arjun tanks that is likely to cost Rs.6,700 crore. This will be a repeat order for the Army. The more interesting project, however, is the acquisition of the first batch of the Arjun catapult artillery system that would give a boost to the artillery arsenal that has not seen any new additions for almost three decades following the Bofors scam.
Sources said that Jaitley is likely to take a call on the procurement of 40 new 130 mm self-propelled Arjun artillery systems that have been developed by the OFB and have cleared all user trials. The deal is likely to cost the army close to Rs.900 crore, it is believed.
All eyes are on Jaitley for what is being considered as his biggest meeting in the defence ministry after taking over.


First Scorpene submarine to become reality soon

 The first Scorpene submarine, to be named INS Kalvari post-commissioning, is almost ready and will go on trial within a year, following which it will be inducted into the Navy in 2016.

The six Scorpene class of submarines will initially be based at Mumbai for trial and later shifted to their operational base at Karwar, which harbours the new aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya with its fleet of MiG-29K fighters.

Two more submarines are in the outfitting stage and are likely to be delivered to the Navy at a gap of eight months each from the commissioning of the first submarine.All the six boats would be ready for operational use by 2018-19, giving the much needed boost to the Navy's depleting under water wing.

Following a naval tradition, in which warships never die, the new diesel-electric submarines will be named as per the old Foxtrot class boats, which were decommissioned decades ago. They were the first submarines of the Navy. The first two Scorpene submarines would be christened as Kalvari and Khanderi.

As Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and Navy chief Admiral R K Dhowan reviewed the progress in the Scorpene project at the Mazgaon dock in Mumbai, officials said the systems of the first submarine are being “set to work”, which means bulk of the manufacturing is over and what is left now is virtually tightening the nuts and bolts.

The first batch of crew of 10 Navy officers and 35 sailors, headed by the submarine's skipper Commodore S D Mahendale, have been sent for training, sources told Deccan Herald.

Six French-origin SSK submarines are under construction in a Rs 18,798 crore project at Mazgaon dock under technology transfer from DCNS. The project is almost three years behind schedule.

Following the accidents on INS Sindhurakshak and INS Sindhuratna, the Navy currently has 14 operational submarines. But with the exception of Russian-origin nuclear powered submarine INS Chakra, most of the Indian submarines are old, necessitating mid-life upgrades. The indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant is yet to go for a sea trial.

On the contrary, China is reported to have close to 80 submarines, including more than 10 nuclear powered boats. Though Pakistan has fewer submarines, their boats are equipped with air independent propulsion technology that allows submarines to stay longer underwater.

Jaitley also inaugurated a Rs 800 crore Mazgaon dock modernisation project to enhance the yard's ability to construct warships and submarines


Def Min to decide fate of Rs 6,000 cr light helicopter deal

(Defencenews): The Defence Ministry will decide the fate of the controversial Rs 6,000 crore deal to procure 197 light choppers which has been on hold due to an ongoing CBI probe into charges that a Brigadier had sought bribe from AgustaWestland to help it bag the contract.

During a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) scheduled this week, the Defence Ministry will also discuss deals worth around Rs 15,000 crore for procuring Apache attack helicopters and Chinook heavylift choppers for the IAF from the US, Defence Ministry officials said.

The DAC, headed by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, is scheduled to take up the deal for discussion in its meeting where it is expected to decide its fate, they said.

The 197 light utility choppers are to be procured for the Army and the IAF who use them for ferrying troops and supplies in high altitude areas such as Siachen Glacier and would be used to replace the vintage Cheetah/Chetak choppers which were inducted 40 years ago.

CBI has been probing allegations against the Brigadier which surfaced during investigations into the VVIP chopper deal about the alleged involvement of AgustaWestland in paying kickbacks to secure the Indian contract for 12 VVIP choppers.

CBI probe was ordered by the Defence Ministry after the Army requested it to investigate the charges against the Brigadier before taking any decision on the future developments in the deal.

Allegations have been levelled against the Brigadier in a letter allegedly sent by an AgustaWestland official in India to his superiors in Italy saying the officer was seeking USD 5 million for facilitating the deal in their favour.

Only two firms European Eurocopter and Russian Kamov are left in the race for the deal to supply 197 light choppers to the Army and the IAF as AgustaWestland was knocked out of the deal in the preliminary stages itself.

The deal for procuring 197 light choppers has already been cancelled once in 2007 in the last stages. The Brigadier has denied the charges made against him.

August 27, 2014

In 'Made in India' Push, Jaitley to Review Scorpene Submarine Project

Defence Minister Arun Jaitley is visiting the Mumbai-based Mazgaon Docks Ltd today to review the status of the Scorpene Submarine, under production there.

He will be accompanied by Navy chief Admiral Robin Dhowan.

India's submarine strength is depleting fast and it is important to speed up production. The defence minister is expected to lay down stricter timelines for completing important projects.

The Narendra Modi government is pushes aggressively on its mantra of indigenization in defence. The new emphasis is on local manufacturing and the Mazgaon Docks has an important place in India's grand plan to indigenize ship production. Two important ships, the INS Kolkata and the INS Kamorta, were commissioned in recent weeks by Prime Minister Modi and the Defence Minister. (India's First Indigenous Anti-Submarine Warship Commissioned into Navy)

The Indian Navy has ordered over 40 ships, all being built in Indian shipyards.


IAF copter deals to be on agenda at defence meet on Friday

The big ticket purchases of Chinook heavy lift helicopters and Apache attack helicopters for the Indian Air Force (IAF) are on the agenda of the meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) slated for Friday.
Sources said earlier this month, the Defence Procurement Board (DPB) headed by the defence secretary had cleared offset proposals for the two contracts estimated to be worth $2.5 billion. This paved the way for the deals to be placed before the DAC before final approval is sought from the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).
This will be the second DAC meeting chaired by Defence Minister Arun Jaitley. If the two contracts are cleared, they will be the first big contracts finalised by the NDA government.
The first meeting of the DAC held last month had cleared defence contracts worth Rs.21,000 crore and ended a logjam over private participation in the manufacturing of military aircraft.
The IAF has plans to purchase 22 Apache attack helicopters and 15 Chinook heavy lift helicopters. The Chinooks are estimated to cost around Rs.7,000 crore. The Apaches are expected to cost a little less.
Apart from the two big ticket contracts, the defence ministry's decision is awaited on several other pending projects of the Navy and Army.
There is an overall concern about the acute shortage of helicopters in the armed forces. The Army and the Navy are the worst-hit.
The Army is awaiting movement on its proposal to buy 197 light utility helicopters, but the acquisition has been marred by several controversies. The DAC will have to take a call on burying the contract or resurrecting it.
Several contracts for the Navy and the Army are also awaiting decisions. Projects worth Rs10,000 crore for improving the Navy's submarine fleet and adding tanks and artillery power to the Army are on the anvil.
Considering that the first meeting of the DAC under Jaitley was highly productive, the armed forces are hopeful that major projects will move forward.
-  Indiatoday

India imposes 'Partial Ban' on Finmeccanica

India will not ink fresh arms deals with Finmeccanica, if other armament companies can provide the same equipment, but will allow ongoing contracts with the Italian conglomerate to continue unhindered.

This "partial ban" — instead of what could have been a "complete" one — was officially notified by the defence ministry on Tuesday. It will come as "a major breather" for Finmeccanica, all dealings with which were earlier put on hold after its UK-based subsidiary AgustaWestland got enmeshed in the infamous VVIP helicopter kickbacks case.

It also marks a shift from the earlier UPA era, under A K Antony as defence minister, where there was "indiscriminate blacklisting" of armament companies after allegations of corruption and bribery. "It often proved counter-productive. The aim now is not to block military acquisitions and spares, even as any wrongdoing is punished," said an official.

This is the second such case after the Narendra Modi government ruled out blacklisting of global engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce, which too is under CBI scanner for allegedly employing agents, on the grounds of "operational urgency and national security".

As was first reported by TOI on August 7, attorney general Mukul Rohatgi had advised the MoD that a complete ban or blacklisting of the entire Finmeccanica group, which produces warship guns and torpedoes to helicopters and radars, would jeopardize the battle-readiness of the armed forces.

On Tuesday, the MoD issued a graded set of guidelines for dealings with Finmeccanica:

* It will go ahead with all contracts under execution. Contracts already executed but requiring supply of spares and upgrades on a regular basis will also continue. This means ongoing contracts for manufacture of 76mm warship guns by BHEL under licence from Otomelara, a subsidiary of Finmeccanica, as well as those for Selex radars and electronic systems will continue. Contracts where any Finmeccanica company is a sub-contractor or supplier to the main contractor will also continue. So, Russian upgrades of the Kamov-28 anti-submarine helicopters, where a Finmeccanica company is a supplier, will go-ahead.

* All acquisition cases where Finmeccanica has been declared L-1 (lowest bidder) after competition shall be put on hold till further orders. A special exception for the Rs 1,800 crore project to buy 98 'Black Shark' heavyweight torpedoes for the Scorpene submarines being constructed at Mazagon Docks is likely to be done.

* In an ongoing tender process, in which L-1 has not been declared, Finmeccanica may not be considered if other vendors are available. But Finmeccanica may remain in the fray to supply naval multi-role helicopters to avoid a single-vendor situation.

* A fresh tender or RFP (request for proposal) will not be issued to Finmeccanica if there are other vendors which can provide the same equipment or system. This could rule out Otomelara from participating in the new project for heavy 127mm guns India is now looking for new warships.

As earlier reported by TOI, one estimate holds Finmeccanica, apart from ongoing contracts like the supply of Selex radars or Otomelara naval guns, is in contention for Indian military contracts worth over $6 billion.

The crucial ones include the Rs 1,800 crore project to buy 98 'Black Shark' heavyweight torpedoes, manufactured by another Finmeccanica subsidiary Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquel (WASS) for the six Scorpene submarines being built at Mazagon Docks in Mumbai.

Another case is for the procurement of naval multi-role helicopters (MRHs), with the contenders being European NH-90 choppers, which have Finmeccanica as a partner, and the American Sikorsky-70B choppers. The first contract for the 16 MRHs is to be followed by a bigger one for 123 helicopters at a cost of over $3 billion.


CBI gives clean chit to Tatra for lack of proof

Debunking former Army chief VK Singh’s claim that bribes were offered to him to clear the purchase of all-terrain Tatra trucks, the CBI on Tuesday sought to close the case, giving a clean chit to UK-based company Tatra Sipox (TS) and its CEO Ravinder Rishi  for want of “sufficient evidence” to prosecute them.
In its closure report filed before a special CBI court, the agency said there was no basis to the allegations that TS illegally supplied these trucks as the Indian Army had a valid contract with Czech based company Omnipol, an authorised representative of Tatra a.s.
“During the course of investigation, a Letter Rogatory (LR) was sent to the Czech Republic… the execution reports do not point towards guilt of any accused person in this case,” said the agency, which had registered the case as an off-shoot of Gen Singh’s March 2012 complaint that he was offered a bribe to clear a tranche of Tatra all-terrain vehicles.
The court is yet to take up the matter. The closure report is likely to impact another case filed against Lt Gen (Rtd) Tejinder Singh who had allegedly offered a bribe to Gen Singh, currently a minister in the NDA government.
The allegation that the companies padded the costs of trucks by changing currency of payment from dollars to Euros also failed to stand legal scrutiny after “Bank of Czechoslovakia claimed that it was the bank which had insisted on the change in currency.”
The CBI concluded that lack of indigenisation of trucks supplied by Tatra a.s. “was not a lapse.”

Hindustan times

Indo-Pak border: BSF to get over 700 automatic firing systems

The Border Security Force, the country's first line of defence along Pakistan, is set to modernise its war stores and acquire over 700 pieces of automated mortar firing systems which will enable its troops to launch accurate and lethal rocket strikes.
The largest border guarding force of India, which has close to 20 artillery units for combat duties along the western theatre, has decided to procure the most advanced Automated Mortar Fire Direction Controller (AMFDC) which helps troops to fire targeted mortars and explosive shells on enemy positions.The system provides for an on-board fire control system that includes a command computer platform, navigation system, and gun pointing system. The device allows military crews to fire in less than a minute's time as compared to the current five-six minutes and the accuracy of the hit gets enhanced by four to five times. The device is used in modern warfare by armies as it reduces the exposure time of the crew and troops thereby securing them in a war zone.
The BSF, sources said, has got sanction from the government to procure 769 such pieces which will be subsequently deployed at BSF locations along the Indo-Pak border. The development assumes significance as the force is facing the brunt of the recent spate of ceasefire violations and unprovoked firing from across Pakistan.
"This is a part of the modernisation plan of the BSF which is the first responder in case of a war with Pakistan. During peace time like now, the BSF operates under the operational command of the Army and is the first line of defence for enemy onslaught," a senior official said.
The force, according to a blueprint prepared in this regard, is wanting to modernise the medium-range guns and other mortar shelling weapons possessed by it and these need to be put on a digital and electronic platform on the lines of the Army so that in any exigency or emergency the force could respond effectively.


August 26, 2014

BEL Systems Equip INS Kamorta

INS Kamorta, the first of the four indigenously-built anti-submarine warfare (ASW) stealth corvettes is being equipped with many state-of-the-art systems from city-based Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).
 Commissioned into the Indian Navy at Visakhapatnam today, the INS Kamorta has added a new dimension to the ASW capability of the Indian Navy and in particular, the eastern fleet.
BEL has been a silent partner to some of the most advanced programmes of the Indian Navy, has supplied all the major sensors and electronic systems onboard INS Kamorta. These include a 3-D Surveillance Radar (Revathi), Active-cum-Passive Integrated Sonar System (Humsa-NG), EW System Sanket, Combat Management System, Fire Control System (Lynx), Ship Data Network, Composite Communication System (CCS Mk III) and Data Link (Link II). 
INS Kamorta is well equipped to fight in nuclear, biological and chemical warfare conditions. “The Revathi radar from BEL can easily detect any threats emerging out of both air and surface targets. It’s a proven system and has some inbuilt features like ‘track-while-scan of targets, giving edge to the operators,” a BEL official told Express.
Currently, 42 warships are under construction in various shipyards in India and BEL says it will have a key role equipping these assets with smart systems.

-  newindianexpress

With President's visit, big defence deal with Vietnam likely

Three consecutive weeks and three different destinations. India's Look East Policy is gaining fast momentum under the BJP-led NDA government. After her visits to Myanmar, followed by Singapore and current to Vietnam Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj is opening new vistas of cooperation with the ASEAN countries both in strategic as well as in economic spheres.

Vietnam has been Delhi's key defence and strategic partner in the region with whom relations have grown away from the public glare. Swaraj's visit would not only prepare for President Pranab Mukherjee's visit to Vietnam from September 14-17 followed by their PM Nguyen Tan Dung's visit to India in October, official sources told ET. It is not often that Indian President visits one country and its PM comes calling to India in back to back months and this shows significance of growing strategic partnership amid regional tensions following China's claim in the South China Sea region, experts indicated.

A major defence deal is in offing when Mukherjee visits Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, sources said, adding, India has been a key defence hardware partner for Vietnam in naval equipment.

As both countries have been using Russian military platform for decades India and Vietnam complement each other on matters of training and spare parts. Vietnam is also seeking to import Brahmos missiles jointly manufactured by India and Russia. Sources told ET from Hanoi that Sushma told PM Dung during her meeting today that India appreciated Vietnam's security and national defence capabilities and expects to become its partner in this regard. It may be recalled that Indian Navy ships recently made a port call on Vietnam's port on their way back from India-US-Japan trilateral exercise off the coast of Japan.

The meeting also focused on doubling or tripling trade between the two countries, conclude the negotiations on a bilateral free trade agreement, and launch a direct air route in the near future. Indian firms also have an interest in investing in infrastructure and signing deals with Vietnamese producers of corn and rice, as well as pangasius farming enterprises.

On South China Sea dispute, Swaraj quoted from at the recent ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting in Myanmar where India opposed the use and threat to use force in international disputes while supporting the peaceful settlement of disputes in line with international law, particularly the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Vietnam is also emerging as a supplier of hydrocarbon for India. Ahead of Swaraj's visit, Hanoi renewed India's lease of two oil blocks in the South China Sea for another year. India had decided to continue in off-shore oil blocks offered by Vietnam in the South China Sea region notwithstanding pressure from China. The oil blocks are located in Vietnam's Exclusive Economic Zone in the region that is disputed by China. There was flare up between Beijing and Hanoi when China put a mobile oil-rig in the area this May. It was however, later withdrawn following protests and anti-China riots in Vietnam.

Meanwhile addressing a the 3rd Roundtable of the ASEAN-India Network of Think Tanks also in Hanoi, Swaraj today emphasized the importance of the 'C' of connectivity to the five Ts that the Government of India is pursuing - Tradition, Talent, Tourism, Trade and Technology to cement ties with the region.
- Economictimes

India to Develop Man-Portable Anti-Tank Guided Missile

India is working on developing a man-portable anti-tank guided missile capable of being fired from shoulders, a top defence official said in Hyderabad on Monday.

"We are going to have surface-to-air missile which will be on the move, tracking...We are also working (on) missiles...stop and launch within a few seconds. We are also working on man-portable anti-tank missile which can be fired from shoulders. We are planning to bring out these systems within the next four years," Scientific Advisor to Defence Minister Avinash Chander said.Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an international conference on advanced avionics, Mr Chander, who is also the Chief of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said "if you see, our cycle-time used to be 8 years to 10 years for the systems...now we are talking of delivering it in 4-5 years."

"The aim is (in the) next five years you will see at least five different types of missiles covering different spectrums altogether," Mr Chander said, adding that they are for different roles, including surface-to-surface, anti-tank, cruise, longer range and strategic.

Asked when the country would stop importing missiles, he said the aim is to have adequate capability in this field by 2020-22, adding, an infra-red (IR) seeker detector facility would be set up in the country. "Our target is thereafter (2022) we should not have to import any class of missiles." Mr Chander said DRDO is working on multi-range missiles, and also on short-range surface-to-air missiles.

Surface-to-air short-range missile would have two vehicle configuration - one for search and tracking and other for multiple missiles being fired. It will be given to the Army but it can be used by other forces as well. "It is going to be a potent missile. We are also working on Akash Mark-II."

"We are working on other variations also, so that we have total envelope of surface-to-air capabilities. In future, we will aim to work on longer range missile of 200-plus kms.

We are working on cruise missiles which will cover ship launch, air launch, submarine launch and ground launch versions. We are expecting the second test-launch of Nirbhay (missile) to happen within a month," he said.


August 25, 2014

Interview : DRDO Chief - Discloses India's Anti-Ship Ballistic Missile

The new Narendra Modi government gave the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO), a major vote of confidence in its first budget by substantially hiking both the revenue and capital resources available to India's premier weapons development agency. However it is understood that this hike is also intended to help DRDO complete existing projects and pave the way for future programs many of which will be pursued in mission mode. The idea is to create a substantial military industrial complex in India which not only caters to domestic requirements but also dovetails with India's wider geo-economic strategy with respect to manufacturing exports and job creation. DRDO today is being asked to not merely catch up with the west in the realm of military technology but actually create 'technological surprise' for the rest of the world.

DRDO itself realizes that for India to achieve this objective, the path taken may be a little different from that taken by say the United States or Russia. For instance while DRDO is being boosted by the current regime, the Indian defence market is also being opened up to greater foreign direct investment. DRDO will also be given more freedom in choosing production partners for its products many of whom are likely to be from India's private sector in times to come. Geek at Large caught up with the Scientific Advisor to the Raksha Mantri and Director General DRDO, Dr Avinash Chander to discuss these issues and more...

Saurav Jha: Dr Chander, DRDO's prowess in the area of strategic missile systems is now accepted by even your worst detractors, but the same cannot be said about tactical missile systems yet. How would you respond to this?
Avinash Chander: Major systems that have already been realized in the tactical domain include the Akash surface to air missile (SAM) which has gone into bulk production and recent trials from production lot conducted by the Indian Army (IA) have been quite successful. IA will induct this system shortly. The Indian Air force has of course already inducted the Akash.

Then you have the Astra air to air missile (AAM) which has undergone successful launches from a Su-30MKI and will soon be tested from the same against actual aerial targets. We are very confident about trials against actual targets since the Astra has already intercepted aerial targets when launched from the ground. I think we have a world class system on our hands here with the Astra. Third on this list, is the Indo-Israeli Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM) which is headed for trials in September if things go according to plan.

So there has been significant growth even in the tactical missiles arena domestically.

Saurav Jha: So in that context what are some of the new tactical missile systems being developed under DRDO's recently unveiled 'missile autonomy mission?'
Avinash Chander: Our aim via the 'missile autonomy mission' is to cover a wider space as it were. Let me outline some of the new systems being progressed. A new man portable anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) for which design is over and hardware is getting developed. A Longer ranged SAM with a range of 200-250 km is on the drawing board. A quick reaction SAM which can track on move is well-advanced in the design stage. An anti-radiation missile and a long range anti-ship missile which can prevent aircraft carriers from coming within 1500-2000 km of our shores are also being pursued.

Saurav Jha: What is the status of the anti-radiation missile and the long range anti-ship missile?
Avinash Chander: For the anti-radiation missile design is in progress, in fact hardware is being readied for the first trials. We expect successful trials of this ARM from an aircraft in about the next three years.

The long range anti-ship missile is on the drawing board, and we are confident that in about six years we would be able to get it ready. The long range anti-ship missile is going to be a ballistic missile with a seeker which can hit ships at long range.

Saurav Jha: So this is a rough equivalent of the Chinese DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile? An anti-access/area denial system?
Avinash Chander: Something like that yes. So as you can see almost the entire spectrum of missile capability is being addressed. And addressed to meet state of the art requirements thereby giving full teeth to our armed forces.

Saurav Jha: Coming back to the Akash, is there a move to upgrade the Akash, with say the addition of an onboard seeker?
Avinash Chander: We are examining various options for Akash Mk-II so that it can operate over a larger profile. One of the options is putting a seeker on board. Of course it not simply a matter of adding a seeker since it changes the entire dynamics of the missile. Nevertheless we are looking at multiple options and are certainly working on a Mark 2 version of the Akash.

Saurav Jha: Moving onto the Astra, when can we expect Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) for it?
Avinash Chander: After the first air-launched trials against an actual target which will take place in October-November this year, we will continue to extend its total engagement envelope and by 2015 end we should be looking at induction clearance.

Saurav Jha: Why was the LRSAM beset with delays? What would your perspective be on this?
Avinash Chander: LRSAM is a state of the art system. The Armed forces had actually tried to buy such a system from abroad, but nothing was really available that would come with satisfactory terms. And that is how we got into a joint venture with Israel, the system had to be developed ab initio. So there were issues with respect to radar development, issues with respect to the actuation system as well which was initially supposed to be pneumatic but then had to be changed to electromechanical. Then there was the two pulse motor which was being done for the first time and that got into certain combustion stability problems. But the good news is that all those problems have now been overcome. We launched a massive program on the rocket motor and today we have a motor which is stable and will be tested shortly.

Saurav Jha: Many of the new missiles being developed under the missile autonomy mission will require an on board seeker given their functions. For true autonomy India will have to be sufficient in that domain at some level. So in that context has a new detector fabrication facility for seeker heads been approved?
Avinash Chander: We are committed to setting up a detector production facility. Normal process of dialogue and tendering, taking approvals etc is currently underway. We are going to have a detector production facility for focal point arrays.

On the radio frequency (RF) seeker front also there is a major thrust. Right from the device i.e source of RF to the stabilization system, to the processing, we are starting a national mission kind of thing. Like we did when it came to developing control laws for the LCA. We have also set up a national mission for engines, for the 1500 HP engine. Now we are setting up a national mission for seekers by involving multiple agencies. We are confident that in the next three years.

We are starting a national mission for seeker and we are confident in the next three years we'll have our own seekers in multiple spectral domains - X band, Ka-band etc.

Saurav Jha: Coming to strategic missile systems. Missile ejection tests for the Agni-V's canister were carried out recently. How successful were these and when will see an actual canisterized launch of the Agni-V?
Avinash Chander: We had two tests and both were quite successful. Prime requirement is that there should be full repeatability matching with the projections. Both requirements have been met and the missile has been cleared to be launched from the canister. It should happen after the monsoon sometime.

Saurav Jha: Dr Chander, given that China is investing in anti-ballistic missile systems, it seems that MIRVs are becoming an inevitability for greater leakage probability. So when will see a full blown system test?
Avinash Chander: First of all, there are many ways of countering a ballistic missile defence. MIRV is one of the ways of course, i.e. by increasing the numbers. There are other ways, putting in more intelligence, countermeasures, reducing RCS and so on. This is like the game between missiles and aircraft. Where you build better missiles, but that doesn't mean that you don't build aircraft. I don't think there can be system which can be 100 percent proof. As we build more and more intelligence, it will have a counter response.

Saurav Jha: Has the program for a domestic turbofan for the Nirbhay taken off? What is the rating of this engine?
Avinash Chander: We have taken up the development of this engine and it has come to the bench test level. It is currently undergoing tests and evaluation and we are confident that we can do it. It has 400 kg thrust engine. But once we have the capability we can achieve varied thrust ratings for engines of this class. Incidentally, Nirbhay is coming up in a big way.

Saurav Jha: And what is the status of the flagship Turbofan development, the Kaveri?
Avinash Chander: Kaveri was tested continuously for 53 hours on a flying test bed in Russia where all the major parameters were proven. There were certain observations which are now being addressed at the lab level. We have put up a proposal to the government to continue. So that we have a viable engine at the end of it. More importantly Kaveri will have to be modified for use in the unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV). As that comes under MTCR and nobody will give us engines. So Kaveri will essentially be a lifeline for that program.

Saurav Jha: What is the status of that program?
Avinash Chander: Designs are getting finalized. We are going through the final stages of reviews.

Saurav Jha: When will we see a prototype of the UCAV? Will we see it by 2017 or so?
Avinash Chander: I don't think it will come that fast. Aircraft prototyping the typical cycle is 5-6 years. But we are working on it.

Saurav Jha: Turning to the Kaveri Marine Gas Turbine. What is the status of that program?
Avinash Chander: KMGT has been taken up as a major joint activity between DRDO and industry. Because it has vast potential.

Saurav Jha: Now while DRDO is a development agency, the real issue in India is that of effective productionization. In that context, will the missile autonomy mission see the emergence of private sector players as system integrators?
Avinash Chander: Today, private industry is very actively involved in many DRDO programmes in the developmental stage. The main issue as you have said rightly, is that of their involvement as system integrators and system deliverers. My feeling is that with a number of systems coming up in the next few years, since our aim is to create a vast array of capability in the next 5-7 years, it will not be possible to do all that with purely government investment. So we will have to involve the national manufacturing capability for which we have suggested a military industrial complex to be created, which can become a partner in development as well as in delivery. We hope that private industry will be playing a major role in this. Also for many of the critical systems, there can be parallel lines for export, which can be run by private industries. If we feel that public sector unit(PSU) capacity is saturated we can always create a parallel line which is purely profit driven. They will have to create a market... and once the need is seen and the profitability is proven, automatically capacity will enhance itself.

Saurav Jha: Dr Chander doesn't this lead to that old chicken and egg situation, where the private sector doesn't come in without assured demand, but to create the demand itself you have to make upfront investments?
Avinash Chander: I think the scenario is changing. Because there has been an unnecessary hesitation in conveying the numbers. Fact is we need numbers. Everybody knows we need numbers. And if we need numbers, we can convey the numbers to whichever industry whether public or private, subject to that industry meeting the specified requirements. If it doesn't meet requirements, we don't accept, just like any other thing which we go and buy. If something doesn't meet my specifications, I go and return the item or I don't accept it at all. So there shouldn't be a worry, that if it doesn't meet (specifications), as to what one should do. I think a realization has dawned that if time cycles have to be cut down, if capacity has to be created, if people have to be drawn in to invest in the creation of knowledge, it is essential that an integrated planning approach be adopted. Wherein all stages from development to product support during the life cycle be treated as an integrated activity. Then only can we be cost effective, time effective, and can create state of the art products.

Saurav Jha: The numbers you mention are also attracting a lot of foreign majors. And India recently liberalized its FDI in defence norms. But India's experience has shown that no foreign major, really wants to transfer the latest technology simply in lieu of money, to put it crudely. So in that sense what do you think FDI in defence can do for you?
Avinash Chander: When one is in a competitive market, an induction of this kind (i.e. of FDI), is a sort of trigger. I am confident that Indian innovation capability, entrepreneurship capabilities, will create more emphasis on R&D at the industry level, to be competitive with the FDIs on the anvil. When that happens, foreign vendors will have no option but to bring in better technology. Because it would set up a kind of a cycle wherein if they have to survive they would have to bring in the latest technology. For instance today that we come to this stage of development in missiles and aircraft, we find that people are offering a much better level of technological cooperation to us. The United States for example has come with the Javelin co-production, co-development offer, which was unthinkable some time back. And this is all because of the domestic capability which has been created. I am sure FDI in the defence sector, will trigger, like it did in the automobile sector. There also nobody wanted to bring in the technology, but people learnt, they grew. And they created a competitive eco-system and today you see Indian automobile companies standing on their own stead.

Saurav Jha: But in some areas such as drive trains, the Indian automobile sector is not really at par with the rest of the world. So that suggests that some technology gaps may yet require public investment to be bridged. Again, the latest budget has seen a substantial increase in the outlay for DRDO, but is it enough? Does DRDO today have enough manpower and enough resources?
Avinash Chander: With the enhanced budget we are comfortable for the time being. Secondly, for many of the future developments there will be partnership from the armed forces, from industry and so on. All the money need not come from DRDO, should not come from DRDO in fact, because we want commitment from all segments.

Another important part that you referred to is of course manpower. That is a serious area of concern. We have been carrying on, but we are finding serious difficulties because today we are saturated at about 7500 scientists, which basically means that there are a very small number of scientists per program. We are finding different means for outsourcing some of the more routine activities, but what for all the major programs on the anvil we need around 300-350 fresh young minds to be inducted every year who would bring new ideas, new dynamism. Today we are inducting hardly seventy people to offset retirements. So we have put up a case to government for enhancement of manpower and are looking to induct some 2700 scientists in phases over the next decade, so that our base can become strong. That base will create the dynamism for the future.


Army's ammunition won't last 20 days of war

 Even as mortars and guns once again boom along the border with Pakistan, alarm bells continue to clang over the crippling shortage of ammunition reserves in the 1.18-million strong Indian Army.

In a grim reality check in March, TOI had reported that India did not have enough ammunition to undertake a full-blown war with "intense fighting" for even 20 days. Six months down the line, the situation on the ground has not changed much.

Officials, however, contend the Modi government is "fully cognizant" of the "shocking state of affairs". Though "urgent steps" are being taken, it will take time to build up the war wastage reserves (WWR) due to the "long-winded" arms procurement procedures as well as the sluggish performance of the 39 factories under the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), they say.

The WWR, incidentally, should be sufficient for 30 days of "intense" and 30 days of "normal" fighting. With three days of "normal" equal to one of "intense", the WWR should consequently be adequate for 40 days of "intense" fighting.
"But there are deficiencies across the board. The critical ones are for tank and air defence ammunition, anti-tank guided missiles, specialized machine-gun magazines, grenades, mine fuses and the like. Some types of ammunition will not last even a week in a full-fledged war," said a source.As per the overall Army "ammunition roadmap", the WWR will reach 100% only by 2019 if there is budgetary support of around Rs 97,000 crore. "While 23 types of ammunition have to be imported, OFB will manufacture the rest," said another source.

Phase-I of the roadmap will ensure deficiency of critical ammunition is made up to sustain 20 days of "intense" fighting and three years of training ammunition by March 2015. This will cost Rs 19,250 crore.

Under it, Rs 963 crore worth of ammunition was ordered from the OFB in 2013-2014, while contracts worth another Rs 1,964 crore are already underway in the ongoing fiscal. Similarly, orders for 15,000 3UBK-Invar missiles and 66,000 armour-piercing rounds for the T-90S main-battle tanks have already been inked.
Moreover, 17 import cases are now being "progressed'' for specialized ammunition. "Around 10 RFPs (request for proposals) have already been issued. These things take time. Overall, for instance, there were 23 contracts worth Rs 16,177 crore inked for the Army in 2013-2014," said an official.
But ammunition shortages have become the norm in the world's second-largest Army over the last couple of decades. India, in fact, had to undertake "emergency purchases" at exorbitant prices from Israel during the almost 70-day but limited Kargil conflict in 1999.
Ammunition, incidentally, is held at three levels. The "first line" of "on-weapon" and "unit reserve" is held at the battalion-level. The "second line" is with brigades and divisions. Finally, there is the WWR held in a dispersed manner in different depots.
- Timesofindia 

EXCLUSIVE: Navy initiates 'Look East' for lethal MiG29K

Increasing Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean will soon have to put up with some mean company from the skies.
Two weeks ago the navy received orders to implement a tectonic shift. The most lethal fighters flying the Indian colours as on date, navy's MiG29K/KUB, will for the first time in over four years of their service, 'look east'. Preparations have begun to deploy and permanently base a full squadron (consisting 17 aircraft) of these fighters to strengthen the security of India's energy-rich and trade-wise vital, eastern seaboard. Next year onwards, these jets will make the naval airbase INS Dega, in Vishakapatnam, their home. Earlier this month, an initial sanction of Rs.450 crore was accorded for building related technical support and infrastructure facilities here.
Barring training and detachment duties, these fighters, till date, have remained at their home base INS Hansa in Goa when not embarked on aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya.
Basing the MiG29K/KUB in Vishakapatnam will not just provide a fillip to the immediate maritime security scenario but also bring closer the island territories in Andaman and Nicobar in addition to creating a ready window into the increasingly volatile south-east Asian waters. These multirole jets are designed to function
without requiring an overhaul. They can fly over 1200 miles in a single sortie, which brings parts of north eastern states too under their reach, if the situation so demands. Their ability tank up mid-air only means that there will be no limit to their reach in areas where India is increasingly looking at joint exploration of offshore sites with friendly nations as also further up inland.In the long term scenario, this move has been made also keeping in mind the arrival of the indigenously made aircraft carrier 'Vikrant', work on which is going on at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL), Kochi. The 'Vikrant', which is being designed to carry a mix of MiG29K/KUBs and the naval version of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, is expected to commence her trials by the end of 2016 and will be the first aircraft carrier to operate under the Eastern Naval Command (ENC).
Unlike the Western Naval Command (WNC), which has its ships and aerial assets spread out across the coastline, the ENC enjoys the fruits of co-location of its dockyard and aerial assets at Vishakapatnam. "With the expansion of INS Dega, there will be an inherent ease making our training and operations more effective," said a senior naval officer
Conceived more than five years ago, the plan envisages a massive expansion of the airbase, in terms of size as well as capabilities. In the final scenario, from the present size of 1100 acres, the INS Dega will be spread out to over 1500 acres.
The volume of naval aviation that the airbase is slated to handle will bring it almost at par with the largest naval airbase INS Hansa. The workload will include accommodating the full squadron of MiG29K/KUBs as well as the Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawks, nine of which are already operational and eight more will arrive by June 2016, along with their required infrastructure and support set up. INS Dega will also field a large chunk of aircraft which form a part of future acquisitions like Multi Role Helicopter (MRH), 56 Naval Utility Helicopters, Naval Multi Role Helicopters (NMRH) as well as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs).

At present, the INS Dega houses ship-based helicopters like the Kamov28 Anti Submarine Warfare (ASW) and UH3H when the ships are in harbour, apart from the single-engine Chetak. In the fixed-wing category, it houses the trainer Hawk and Dornier, used for medium range reconnaissance and parachute training.
A parallel taxi track at the INS Dega is also in the offing which will cut down the runway occupancy time since the base shares space with a civil terminal where international airlines have already begun operating. "The construction will be such that we will, if required, use the track as a secondary runway for our fighters to land," said a senior naval officer.
It is pertinent to the note that the Indian Air Force (IAF) had only last year, commissioned and operationalised its base at Thanjavur in the Southern Air Command which will house its premier warplane, the Sukhoi30MKI. In conjunction, these moves are bound to provide teeth to formations in the peninsular region as also enhance offshore security. 
With the Singapore-based Silk Air commencing international civil flights to Vishakapatnam 2012, the navy, which owns and operates the civil terminal, converted the airport into a round-the-clock functional airport from January of this year.
MiG29K/KUB: A Profile
Fourth generation plus, air dominance fighter designed and manufactured by United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) in RussiaFirst ever flight took place in January 2007Indian Navy was the first in the world to induct this aircraft in February 2010, even before Russian NavyIndia has contracted for a total 46 MiG29K/KUB aircraftMaximum speed achieved is 1370MPHService ceiling is above 57400 feetFuel capacity for a single seater MiG29K is 4800kgSmokeless engineMulti mode radar for range, air patrol, air to ground attack and weather informationReduced signature in radar rangeEight external hard points for enhanced weapons loadCan accommodate weapons of Russian-origin as well as those from the west.
-  Indiatoday