January 29, 2016

Russia to start work on joint plan to produce light military choppers in India this year

NEW DELHI: Russia is planning to initiate work on a joint plan to produce light military choppers in India this year and has identified the helicopters for export orders as well. Sharing details of a new Indo-Russian joint venture company to produce KA 226 helicopters, a top Russian executive has also indicated that a private Indian company could also be involved in the project and would be chosen by the Indian government.
The agreement to jointly produce at least 200 of the KA 226 light choppers in India was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Moscow visit in December and for the first time, the Russian side has shared details of the project with ET.  Viktor Kladov, Head, International Cooperation of Rostec -  Russia's overarching military systems development and export corporation - has said in an exclusive interview that France, which provides the engines for the chopper, is also onboard for technology transfer.  "A number of technical discussions will take place and I hope that before the end of this year, work will start.
 The chopper utilized the best technologies available globally, including the French engines. We have had negotiations with our French partners and are satisfied are on board," Kladov said, adding that HAL (the Indian JV partner for the contract) is already license producing French chopper engines.  Rostec is also looking to jointly export military and civilian versions of the chopper from the Indian line after meeting domestic demands.
"The joint agreement reads that the line will produce no less than 200 choppers. This means that 200 is a confirmed government order. We will definitely be looking at other civilian orders and international markets as well," the top executive said, adding that the chopper for be used for a variety of roles from search and rescue to medical ambulance and geo mapping.  Kladov also indicated that an Indian private company could also be brought on board for the KA 226 production as there is  a provision in the joint agreement. "It is mentioned in the agreement that the Indian side will consist of HAL and another company - we don't exclude that in some part, a private Indian company could be involved. For example, it could be for certain composite elements that can be produced locally," he said. 
Officials in the Indian Defence Ministry have also told ET that one or two partners from the private sector would be considered for the project but would be chosen by the government on technical and financial parameters.   Russia is also planning a significant presence at the upcoming Defence Expo that is being held in Goa this March. Kladov shared that over 60 Russian companies are to participate at the expo that is taking place outside the capital for the first time and several Russian systems, including tanks and combat vehicles are likely to be displayed.


FGFA back on-track :: Moscow and Delhi to invest $8 billion in 5th gen fighter jets

The Indian Air Force (IAF) and Russian aircraft manufacturer Sukhoi have agreed to develop an Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA). Negotiators made a breakthrough last month deciding to lower investment cost to $4 billion for each country.
The deal opens the prospect of producing 250 FGFAs to replace the multirole Sukhoi-30MKI fighter, according to the source in India’s Ministry of Defence as quoted by Business Standard.
The 2008 deal is projected to cost each country $6 billion, adjusted for inflation. India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics and Russia’s Sukhoi have agreed to cut costs by 40 percent to $4 billion each over seven years.
The countries will invest $1 billion in the first year and another $500 million in each of the following six years.
In the meantime, India is negotiating with France on buying 36 multirole Rafale fighters for a price yet to be negotiated. French President Francois Hollande arrives in Delhi on Monday to sort out the financial details.
However, with the agreement reached between India and Russia and Rafale’s projected astronomical cost, the spotlight could go back to the Indo-Russian fighter, according to spokesman from India’s Ministry of Defence.


January 27, 2016

India to play waiting game over Rafale price

India will not be tied down to a timeline on the Rafale deal and is prepared to wait it out for the French to lower the cost, sources have indicated.
Sources also indicated that even in the run-up to French President Francois Hollande’s visit, the Indian government had decided that it was not going to be pushed into a corner on time lines due to the presidential visit. “When you are acquiring a product, you look for the best price. Why should we set ourselves a time line,” sources said. As it turned out, the Indian government stood its ground due to which the two sides could not mutually agree on the cost of the deal. Speculation is rife that while France wants about 11.5 billion euros, In-dia wants the cost lowered to about 8 billion euros.
But the development is bad news for the Indian Air Force (IAF), which desperately wants modern fighter aircraft to boost the number of fighter aircraft squadrons. The developments have also become an example of how urgently-needed acquisitions for the armed forces have been delayed by several years, adversely impacting the operational preparedness of the three services.
In this case, the “request for proposal” (RFP) was issued way back in 2007 for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), a race which Dassault ultimately won after being selected as the lowest bidder. But after protracted contract negotiations between India and Dassault. the proposed deal made no headway, following which India decided last year, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to France, that it would acquire 36 Rafale fighter aircraft directly from the French government by a separate process, citing the operational necessity of the IAF. India also decided to “withdraw” the earlier-issued RFP for 126 MMRCA.But the cost negotiations for these 36 aircraft, even after months of negotiations, could not be concluded in time for President Hollande’s visit, with top government sources describing the negotiations as “complicated”. French firm Dassault — the manufacturer of the Rafale — had already issued a statement on Monday saying it was actively supporting French authorities in their efforts to finalise a complete agreement in the next four weeks.


Rafale: how the "mother of all deals" ended up like an "unplanned child"

It began with the idea of buying 126 fighter jets, for which the French Rafale was chosen in 2012. Negotiations broke down sometime in 2014. Then there was no news about the jets till April 2015 when Modi, during his trip to France, surprised everyone by announcing a much smaller, 36 fighter jet deal.
But after years of talking to the French, there's still no clarity about what this new deal will eventually cost India. That's why there's little excitement about the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) over the Rafale deal that the two countries signed on Monday.
From being 'the mother of all defence deals', the Rafale jet deal has come to us, as an expert recently put it, 'like an unplanned child.'

If the latest development on the Rafale jet business means something, it means a minor victory for the French. Because the Indians have now conceded a hand to the French in price negotiations, by committing itself to buying the Rafale jets.
This seems to be what France wanted for the time being. It was reportedly looking to conclude the deal and make a joint statement during President Hollande's India visit.
The deal is quite important for French economy. And from the point of view of India, whose Air Force dominance in the subcontinent is depleting rapidly due to its ageing fighter squadrons, getting the state-of-the-art fighter jets is critical.
Here we take a look at how the cost of French fighter jets have spiralled upwards and try to understand why India needs to clinch this deal quickly.
To begin with, why does India needs these fighter jets?
Indian Air Force (IAF) has been interested in buying the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) since 2001. It was because IAF could anticipate how obsolete some of its fire-power would become within a couple of decades, which is what it's suffering now.
The Air Force, which has a projected requirement of 44 squadrons, currently operates with 32 squadrons. Of these there are 14 squadrons of out-of-date MiG-21s and MiG-27s, which have to be retired from 2017 onward. Some of the other squadrons of Mirage-2000s and Jaguars are also in process of being upgraded.
At the same time India's neighbours have been working to modernise their air forces. China, which cannot collaborate with Western countries in defence because of arms restrictions on it, has been working with the Russians to develop advanced fighter jets. JF-17s are a result of this and more projects are in the pipeline.

Pakistan, on the other side, is updating its air force with the help of the Americans. The sale of F-16s, which was temporarily halted, has reportedly been resumed again.
With 36 Rafales, the Indian Air Force is looking at setting up two squadrons of the best available fighter jets immediately to maintain its aerial superiority in the subcontinent.
So why isn't India buying these jets?
While all other matters have been settled, the two countries have basically not made much progress on financial negotiations for the past one and a half years. This is also because the positions from which the two countries began negotiating
India was in a commanding position in 2012 when it was ready to offer $12 billion in exchange for 126 advanced fighter jets. All the world's biggest fighter jets, from the Americans with their F/A-18 Super Hornets, the Russians with MiG-35s, the British with Eurofighter Typhoons, to the Swedes with Saab's Grippens, had lined up for this incredible contract.
At that time India was dictating terms to the French, for whom this contract would mean employment guarantee for 7000 employees and 500 subcontractors of Dassault Aviation, the manufacturer of Rafales, which was going through a dry patch then.
To speed up acquisition of the hardware it was agreed that this contract would directly be between the two countries.
However talks between the two countries on 126 aircraft deal broke down as the total cost escalated up to $22 billion. India subsequently placed a new order for 36 Rafales in ready-to-fly condition.
While India to press for better bargains, Egypt and Qatar placed orders of 24 Rafales allowing the French to breathe easy and giving them some confidence while negotiating with India.
Initially the order of 36 jets was expected to cost India $4 billion. But the costs have since, as several media portals have reported, almost doubled.
Latest estimates put the worth of the jets at $9 billion, or Rs 60,000 crore. And it's not just about the cost of the aircraft. India and France are also negotiating the offsets in this deal.
What are offsets?
Offset agreements, followed in defence contracts around the world, are basically conditions put on the seller of a technology to buy products or services from a client. The common practice is to ask the seller to invest a certain amount of the project, back in the buyer's market.
For instance, it is like asking the French to invest a certain percentage of the Rafale deal contract back in India, under Modi's Make in India initiative, which is actually what is happening. In India any defence contract over Rs 300 crore entails an offset cost of 30%. In bigger deals offset is also increased to 50%.
So far the French were arguing hard against bearing offset costs since they're selling Rafales to India at the same cost at which the French air force buys them. However, France's finance minister, Michel Sapin, on Monday pledged to invest $10 billion in India in the coming years. This is good news and may settle the offset debate for good.
Finally, are 36 fighter aircraft enough for the IAF?
No. With their initial order of 126 fighter jets, India was looking to set up 6 squadrons of the best fighter aircraft in the world. But since that order seems to have died a natural death, India would be looking to immediately strengthen its numbers by setting up 2 squadrons.
And possibly inducting more Rafales by either setting up a facility in India or aiding the transfer of technology from Dassault to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).


January 21, 2016

Around 130 Pak nuclear warheads aimed at deterring India: US govt report

 Pakistan's nuclear warheads which are estimated to be between 110-130 are aimed at deterring India from taking military action against it, a latest Congressional report has said.

The report also expressed concern that Islamabad's "full spectrum deterrence" doctrine has increased risk of nuclear conflict between the two South Asian neighbours.

"Pakistan's nuclear arsenal probably consists of approximately 110-130 nuclear warheads, although it could have more. Islamabad is producing fissile material, adding to related production facilities, deploying additional nuclear weapons, and new types of delivery vehicles," Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in its latest report.In its 28-page report, the CRS noted that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is widely regarded as designed to dissuade India from taking military action against it, but Islamabad's expansion of its nuclear arsenal, development of new types of nuclear weapons and adoption of a doctrine called "full spectrum deterrence" have led some observers to express concern about an increased risk of nuclear conflict between Pakistan and India, which also continues to expand its nuclear arsenal.

CRS is the independent research wing of the US Congress, which prepares periodic reports by eminent experts on a wide range of issues so as to help lawmakers take informed decisions. "Pakistan has in recent years taken a number of steps to increase international confidence in the security of its nuclear arsenal," said the CRS report authored by Paul K Kerr and Mary Beth Nikitin.

Moreover Pakistani and US officials argue that, since the 2004 revelations about a procurement network run by former Pakistani nuclear official A Q Khan, Islamabad has taken a number of steps to improve its nuclear security and to prevent further proliferation of nuclear-related technologies and materials, it said. A number of important initiatives, such as strengthened export control laws, improved personnel security, and international nuclear security cooperation programmes, have improved Pakistan's nuclear security, the CRS said. "However, instability in Pakistan has called the extent and durability of these reforms into question. Some observers fear radical takeover of the Pakistani government or diversion of material or technology by personnel within Pakistan's nuclear complex," the CRS said.


IAF keen on having radar along Chinese border

With the objective of keeping a closer and stricter vigil on any possible movement by China along the border that it shares with India in the tribal district of Kinnaur, the Indian Air Force is keen to set up their radar near here. The Indian Air Force (IAF) officials from Kasauli yesterday held a meeting with senior state government officials regarding transfer of land for the setting up of the radar and other infrastructure near Theog, 30 km from here. They are keen that the formalities with regard to acquiring of private land for setting up of the radar is expedited so that they are able to have their set up at the earliest. They are also probing the possibility of having radar close to the Chinese border in Kinnaur.
 The Indian Air Force (IAF) had initiated the process for acquiring of land for setting up their radar near Theog more than three years ago but did not pursue the matter further. In fact, the then Deputy Commissioner (Shimla) had got the land identified and the forest clearances had also been sought for that chunk of land to be used for defence requirements. After the terror attack at its air base in Pathankot, the IAF is keen to go ahead with the proposal which had been lying dormant till now.
  India shares boundary with China in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) in the tribal district of Kinnaur. “The IAF is keen to have a radar and other set-up closer to the Chinese border in Kinnaur so that there can be closer vigil and faster communication which is presently done from Ambala,” said sources. There has been an instance when two Chinese helicopters entered the Indian air space in Kinnaur. It took some time before this violation could be communicated and action could be taken. The Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) guards the border with China in Kinnaur.
  Intelligence agencies have been stressing on India strengthening its communication network and other infrastructure along the Chinese border in Kinnaur. Though trade between India and China has resumed along the Shipki La Pass in Kinnaur, till date no Chinese trader has been allowed to enter India. While in sharp contrast to the poor roads and communication network in the border villages of Kinnaur, the roads and other infrastructure is excellent in the villages on the Chinese side.


France to pitch for naval version of Rafale

A high-level French team is set to meet senior officials of the Navy soon to brief them about the naval version of fighter jet Rafale as India works on the design of its next indigenous aircraft carrier- Vishal.Defence sources said that during the meeting, the French side will give a presentation on the various aspects of the naval version of Rafale and the benefits it will bring at a time when the Air Force will operate Rafale too.
The Air Force is set to acquire 36 Rafales under a government-to government deal.  The development comes when the Navy is in the design phase for the next aircraft carrier. 
Sources said that India has written to four countries, including France, seeking proposals for the design of the aircraft carrier that will have over 50 planes on board.  While India currently operates two aircraft carriers INS Vikramaditya and INS Viraat, the latter is set to be decommissioned soon. The country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier Vikrant is already under construction in Kochi and is scheduled to be handed over by end of 2018.  Sources said that one of the basis of the design will be the aircraft component of the carrier.  “At this moment, we are doing with what we have,” the sources said.
The Navy will deploy MiG 29K fighter aircraft on Vikrant. However, it is not clear if the Navy will stick to MiG 29K or go in for a new aircraft for Vishal.  As per the Navy’s plan, Vishal would be a 65,000 tonnes aircraft carrier and will be about 300 metres long and about 70 metres in width.
While the exact propulsion system for it has not beeen decided, sources indicated it could well be a nuclear one.  “Given the long life cycle of a carrier, about 50 years, the cost of the nuclear propulsion will be recovered as nuclear means longer duration and better availability,” the sources said.


January 19, 2016

Deal, yes. But a good deal...?


The economic and infrastructural assumptions at the base of the two big ticket items of the India-France bilateral — Rafale fighter jets and nuclear reactors — are flawed. Hence, even if the deals are signed, they will not bring about a transformation in strategic ties
French President François Hollande’s visit to India is being seen as a turning point of sorts in terms of the India-France ‘strategic partnership’ (whatever that means) but all indications are that it could turn out to be a damp squib. While all heads of state visits will routinely include smaller agreements, the true determinants of success will ultimately be the big ticket items in the pipeline — or so the narrative goes.
There is no doubt that a whole host of limited value (or sometimes valueless) ‘cooperation’, ‘consultation’ and ‘cultural’ agreements will be signed. But even if the big ticket defence and nuclear deals, that are seen as defining the strategic partnership between India and France in the next few decades go through, they will be of limited utility. The problem is that the fundamental economic and infrastructural assumptions of most of these deals are flawed, and the potential for strategic transformation, consequently, remains acutely limited.
Topping the list of French priorities will be the Rafale deal, now drastically reduced from 126 fighter jets to 36 but still proving to be a nightmare to negotiate largely owing to a price blow-out of over 300 per cent. It now seems de rigeur that every time the negotiations run into problems, reports in major newspapers emerge claiming that the deal is “almost done” and will be signed “next week” or “next month”. This has already happened seven times since 2011, and the reports that are emerging now saying that “the deal will be signed next week” are the eight such time to count.
These reports now have to be seen as a sign of desperation — a method of putting pressure on the Government to sign, but clearly such methods seem to have zero effect. The problem is one of price as well as the fact that public opinion and Press reports have next to no influence on the Defence Ministry. This is probably for the best — thankfully, good economics seems to have trumped the Prime Minister’s rather hasty promise to the French President in April 2015. It is possibly safe to assume that the Rafale deal will not happen during the current visit.
The second issue is the nuclear one. France is the world leader in the construction of nuclear reactors and its reprocessing technology has been the subject of the Indian establishment’s ‘techno-lust’ for quite some time now. The building of French civilian reactors in India also dovetails rather neatly into the Indian Navy’s plans to consolidate its submarine fleet into Western single hull designs, hopefully with a French reactor — currently the only Western military design that India has any hope of purchasing.
The India-France nuclear picture, as it stands, is this: In the military area, India is constructing a derivative of the conventional French Scorpene submarine and hopes to translate the expertise so gained into a single hull nuclear submarine fleet. Optimally, this will be mated to a French-designed reactor —a reactor the Indian Navy covets intensely but does not seem to have mustered the courage to ask for directly. The requests that have gone to the French have, at best, been indirect, couched in so much diplomatese as to make their importance go un-noticed.
France is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, which does not prevent the sale of militarised nuclear reactors. The sale of such reactors is, however, prohibited under French law. An Indian request for such reactors, if it were made directly and in simple language, would be couched in Indian ‘exceptionalism’. Essentially, we’d be telling the French: “We’re different, so change your laws for us”.
Aside from the legal problems, there is also the political opposition to such a deal within France as well as the question of international precedent. The French, however, have always been notoriously independent — far more ‘strategically autonomous’ than India has ever dared to be or even dreamed of. The quantity of the order (and, hence, the price of the contract) has to be hefty enough to overcome the institutional resistance within France to the deal.
However, even if the French agreed, their retort will also be one of exceptionalism: “Since we are making an exception for you by selling you militarised reactors, you must exempt France, and no one else, from the civil nuclear liability laws.” This will be akin to France asking for a monopoly in the Indian market.
This could actually be a good thing. It will germinate the seeds of a true strategic partnership, where the viability of the French nuclear industry is dependent on India, and where India’s nuclear well-being is dependent on a trusted ally that has repeatedly refused to sanction India and even thwarted harshly-worded UN resolutions after the nuclear tests of 1998.
However, while such a situation sounds good in theory, it is far from a being workable. India does not have enough money in the defence budget to give the Navy a sizeable nuclear fleet. In the absence of size, a large part of said nuclear fleet will have to be cut up every six to seven years for refuelling the core. This is a cheap option for France, which uses the exact same fuel in its civilian and military reactors and can use the fuel interchangeably.
For India, however, this is a ruinously expensive option. It means either large parts of the nuclear fleet will have to be laid up every year or that India will have to invest in a duplication of the entire fuel reprocessing infrastructure — one for civilian and one for military — and this will be in addition to the military infrastructure set-up needed to re-process bomb-grade fissile material.
In the civilian arena, short of a radical overhaul of Indian power laws and a crackdown on electricity theft, it is hard to see how the expensive French reactors can breakeven on operating and construction costs, or can even be built in sufficient numbers to generate the economies of scale given that military economies of scale cannot apply here (unlike in France), given India’s unique agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Clearly then, the economics of the two big ticket items — nuclear reactors and Rafale — simply aren’t working out. We may well sign them, but the prospects for ‘strategic transformation’ in relations is non existent — deal or no deal.


To fight China’s Andaman and Nicobar forays, India deploys submarine hunters

With Chinese nuclear and conventional submarines regularly popping up in the Indian Ocean Region (IOR), India has now begun to deploy its latest long-range maritime patrol aircraft as well as spy drones at its forward military base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Defence ministry sources on Monday said two of the country's most potent submarine hunters/killers, the naval Poseidon-8I aircraft, are just about to complete their first-ever two-week deployment to the strategically-located Andaman and Nicobar archipelago. "Navy and IAF are also deploying their (Israeli) Searcher-II unmanned aerial vehicles to the islands on a temporary basis," said a source.

India has inducted eight P-8I aircraft, acquired under a $2.1 billion deal inked in January 2009 with US aviation major Boeing, at its INS Rajali naval air station in Arakkonam (Tamil Nadu). With an operating range of over 1,200 nautical miles and a maximum speed of 907kmph, the radar-packed P-8Is are especially geared to gather intelligence and detect threats in the IOR as "intelligent hawk-eyes".Armed as they are with deadly Harpoon Block-II missiles, MK-54 lightweight torpedoes, rockets and depth charges, the P-8Is can neutralize enemy submarines and warships if required. "AThe case for acquisition of another four P-8Is is in the final stages. P-8Is can operate from Port Blair (naval air station INS Utkrosh) to keep tabs on the entire region," said the source.
 But while this is a much-needed operational requirement, India's first and only theatre command in the shape of Andaman & Nicobar Command (ANC) continues to suffer from relative neglect despite the Modi government making it a top priority. Much more needs to be done at a faster pace to ensure ANC, with requisite military force-levels and infrastructure, can effectively act as a pivot to counter China's strategic moves in IOR as well as ensure security of sea lanes converging towards the Malacca Strait.Sources said "not much progress" has been made in the overall plan to have enough infrastructure and maintenance support with more airstrips and jetties in the 572-island cluster, extending over 720km, to eventually deploy a division-level force (around 15,000 troops), a fighter squadron and some major warships there. As of now, amid turf wars among Army, Navy and IAF as well as fund crunches and environmental concerns, ANC has just over an infantry brigade (3,000 soldiers), 20 small warships and patrol vessels, and a few Mi-8 helicopters and Dornier-228 patrol aircraft.

While the existing runways at Campbell Bay in the south, where naval air station INS Baaz is located, and Shibpur in North Andaman are yet to be extended, the airfields at Port Blair and Car Nicobar also need some serious upgrade work. "Similarly, only one of the four proposed operational turn-around bases for warships is so far in place," said a source.


R-Infra announces takeover of Pipavav Defence

Reliance Infrastructure (R-Infra) on Monday announced the takeover of the management and control of Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering Co (PDOC). It would hold 36.5 per cent of the equity capital of PDOC.

Anil D Ambani has taken over as chairman of PDOC.

R-Infra, along with defence special purpose vehicles, are the new promoters of PDOC. The company will be renamed Reliance Defence and Engineering. This is the largest acquisition in the defence sector in India. The sector is likely to attract orders of Rs 1.2 lakh crore ($20 billion) in the next five years, said the company. Vice-admiral (retired) H S Malhi has been appointed whole-time director and chief executive of the company. He has 36 years of experience in the Indian Navy and was earlier chairman and managing director of Mazagon Dock.
PDOC has also appointed air chief marshal (retired) Fali Homi Major and Lt general (retired) Syed Ata Hasnain as independent directors.

The Government of India has identified ship building as a priority sector to support the critical need to meet the requirements of the Indian Navy as well as that of commercial ships. The expected naval capital outlay in ship-building for the next 10 years is Rs 2.25 lakh crore, of which the private sector is expected to grab at least 50 per cent amounting to Rs 1,12,500 crore, the company said.

PDOC is participating in various programmes in the field of new ship-building and maintenance, repair and overhaul worth Rs 1.8 lakh crore.

The company is the first private-sector firm in India to obtain the licence and contract to build warships. The facility houses the only modular shipbuilding facility with a capacity to build fully fabricated and outfitted blocks. The fabrication facility is spread over 2.1 million sq ft. The shipyard has a pre-erection berth of 980 metres length and 40 metres width, and two Goliath cranes with combined lifting capacity of 1,200 tonnes, besides outfitting berth length of 780 metres.

Reliance Defence is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Infrastructure with industrial licences for the full spectrum of military platforms


January 18, 2016

Plane comparison: Pakistan Thunder versus Indian Tejas

This will be the first appearance of Tejas at a foreign air show, and is bound to be compared with Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder fighter produced with Chinese help.India’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas reached Sakhir Air Base last week to participate in the Bahrain International Air Show 2016, which will be held from January 21. This will be the first appearance of Tejas at a foreign air show, and is bound to be compared with Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder fighter produced with Chinese help.JF-17 Thunder is a third-generation fighter co-produced by Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC), Kamra, and China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. It has been in service since 2010, with the PAC rolling out the 16th of its 50 Block-2 aircraft to complete the PAF’s fourth JF-17 squadron last month.

LCA Tejas has not been inducted into the IAF yet. Starting in 1984, Tejas has been designed and developed by Aeronautical Development Agency with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Defence Research and Development Organisation. Test pilots have done more than 3,000 flights on the fighter, which still awaits IAF’s Final Operational Clearance. The IAF has ordered six squadrons (120 aircraft) of Tejas Mark-1A but there is no certainty over the induction schedule.
How do the two fighters stack up against each other? Aviation expert Angad Singh says that “between the lack of publically confirmed data on the JF-17 (weapons, for example) and the in-development status of the LCA Tejas, any comparison is inherently apples to oranges. Tejas and JF-17 have been designed very differently. Tejas was meant as the next generation fighter — there is a lot of great technology on the Tejas, such as the Israeli HMD. For Pakistan, the JF-17 is meant to replace its old fleet of Mirage III and Chengdu J-7 fighters, which it has done.”


January 13, 2016

India, France scramble to ink Rafale deal during Hollande's visit

Indian and French defence establishments are scrambling to seal the over $4 billion deal for 36 Rafale multi-role fighter jets in time for French President Francois Hollande's visit as chief guest for the Republic Day parade down the majestic Rajpath.

But defence ministry sources said there was "still some distance to go" before the final Rafale contract -- under which delivery of 36 twin-engine fighters in a "flyaway condition" will begin after two years - could actually be inked. This comes after the Manohar Parrikar-led defence acquisitions council on Monday reviewed progress of the final negotiations for the government-to-government fighter deal.

"It's unlikely the actual contract will be inked during Hollande's visit. Though all the complex technical and contractual issues have virtually been settled now, the commercial negotiations will take at least another 2-3 weeks. Then, it will require clearance from the finance ministry, and the final nod from the Cabinet Committee on Security," a source said.

Interestingly, after some hard-nosed negotiations, France has now apparently agreed to 30% offsets in the Rafale deal. This means French companies like Dassault will have to plough 30% of the contract value back into India as offsets.India had specified 50% offsets in the original $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for 126 fighters, under which the first 18 Rafales were to be imported from France, with the remaining 108 being made by defence PSU Hindustan Aeronautics after transfer of technology.

But the MMRCA project was scrapped last year after persisting deadlock over Dassault's refusal to take "full responsibility" for the 108 jets to be made by HAL as well as the stiff hike in its production costs here.Concurrently, the NDA government decided to go in for direct purchase of 36 Rafales during the Modi-Hollande summit in Paris on April 10 last year, citing the IAF's "critical operational necessity" and the need to cut time and costs.

Though France offered better terms and longer maintenance responsibility for India's direct acquisition of 36 jets, it said 50% offsets would hike the overall cost. Under the give-and-take of negotiations, both countries have now veered around to a 30% offset clause, said sources.While the negotiations are only for 36 Rafales, less than one-third of the 126 envisaged under the MMRCA project, the new contract will have a mandatory clause for acquisition of another 18 jets under the 50% follow-on order option at the same price. The 36 jets are to be delivered in the same configuration as were tested and approved by the IAF during extensive field trials in the MMRCA project.

While IAF would have been much happier with 126 Rafales, considering it's down to just 35 fighter squadrons when at least 44 are required for the "collusive threat" from China and Pakistan, it will make do with 36 jets for now. The force is trying to bolster the serviceability of its existing Sukhoi-30MKI and Jaguar fleets, which still hovers around only 55%, to maintain its required air combat ratio.


Barack Obama warns Pakistan: Shut down terrorist safe havens


The US president's remarks, made on the eve of his visit to India, were soon condemned by Pakistan and others as "unfair" 

 President Barack Obama has warned Pakistan it must shut down terrorist safe havens and bring those behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks to justice on the eve of his visit to India.
His comments, made in an interview with the magazine India Today, were condemned in Islamabad as an attempt to curry favour with his hosts which could undermine Pakistan's war against Taliban terrorists in its tribal areas along the Afghan border.
Mr Obama arrives in India on Sunday for his second visit in four years and is hoping to clinch a series of nuclear energy and defence deals to underpin what he hopes will be the "defining partnership" of the 21st century.
He believes the two countries have a natural affinity and wants more trade, greater co-operation against terrorists and pirates and a common approach to climate change.
To underline their common ground on terrorism, he contrasted how the United States had been "unrelenting in our fight against terrorist groups - a fight in which Indians and Americans are united".

"Indians were tragically killed on 9/11, as were Americans on 26/11. On my previous visit to India, my first stop was the memorial at the Taj hotel to pay my respects to the victims, meet with survivors and send a strong message to the Indian people that we stand together in defence of our security and our way of life," he said.
India's neighbour and enemy, Pakistan, was lagging behind, he suggested. "I've made it clear that even as the United States works with Pakistan to meet the threat of terrorism, safe havens within Pakistan are not acceptable and that those behind the Mumbai terrorist attack must face justice," he said.
The United States, along with its partners, had "decimated" the leadership of al-Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said, while the "senseless slaughter" of students and teachers in Peshawar last month was a "painful reminder" of the continuing threat terrorists pose to all.
His comments provoked anger in Pakistan where Mr Obama was accused of undermining its war on Taliban terrorists and undervaluing the lives of thousands of Pakistani soldiers killed in anti-terrorist operations. Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, retired and a leading strategic analyst, said the president's comments had been made to please India on the eve of his visit but would undermine Pakistan just as its army has intensified its operations against Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups in the country.
More than 30,000 army troops are now involved in the Operation Zarb-e-Azb offensive, which was launched last June following an al-Qaeda attack on Karachi Airport.
It has carried out air strikes and artillery attacks on terrorist bases throughout the tribal areas, killing dozens of commanders and volunteers. The offensive was intensified after the Taliban attack on Peshawar's Army Public School in which more than 150 people, mostly children, were killed.
"We have launched a major military operation in which so many lives have been lost. Just to humour the Indians, he's making this statement and it's unfair to Pakistan. It will cause resentment, especially now when Pakistan is doing so much to clear these havens.
"It doesn't make sense. When Pakistan is doing exactly what the international community is asking from them, for them to say these things to please the Indians or rub it is all the time, it's not good politics. If you want to achieve results, you don't say these things, it puts people off.
"[The Army] is taking huge risks by fighting these militants and militant organisations and now you're not even supporting us internationally, it helps the militants. It will disillusion those trying to support the government," Lt-Gen Masood said."


Tejas will be at ‘striking distance’ of Pak JF-17s at Bahrain

It's official! And, it is as close as it can get! India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be at a ‘striking distance' of Pakistan's JF-17 Thunder in Bahrain. The Bahrain International Air Show (BIAS) is scheduled from January 21-23 at the Sakhir Airbase.

At BIAS, two Tejas aircraft will be parked next to two Pakistan's JF-17s on aircraft display Pad No 15. Two Royal Air Force Typhoons will also be parked on Pad No 15. Behind the Tejas, the entire Pad No 14 has been allotted to the United Arab Emirate's Al Fursan aerobatic display team. Pakistan's JF-17s is a joint development project of Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and China's Chengdu Aircraft Industry Corporation. Operational with the Pakistan Air Force since 2010, the JF-17s have already seen some international air shows, including Paris. It's unclear on what basis the organisers have grouped two military platforms from two not-so-friendly nations on the same parking bay. 
The move is expected to grab immense media attention during the show. An LCA Tejas telemetry cabin with a tracking antenna and other equipment have also been given a space inside the Sakhir Airbase area, closer to the static aircraft display trade area. Likely to reach Bahrain today Military sources have confirmed to OneIndia that two Tejas platforms LSP-4 and LSP-7 are scheduled to fly out of Air Force Station Jamnagar on Wednesday. "The planes reached Jamnagar last week from Bengaluru and they are all set to fly out to Muscat today. 
It will be historic in many ways as Tejas will be cruising out of Indian skies for the first time," an officer told OneIndia. In the last one week, in addition to various technical clearances, Tejas had to undergo a series of mandatory custom checks at the Jamnagar base. "It will have a stopover at Muscat before flying out to Sakhir Airbase in Bahrain. It is scheduled to reach Bahrain today itself," the officer said.

Technical crew spread across different bases A team of over 150 technicians, engineers and ground crew have already been positioned at Jamnagar, Muscat and Bahrain ahead of the Tejas' historic outing. As reported by OneIndia recently, Tejas had cleared one of the most critical flight test parameters in the programme, when the pilots pulled 8 'g' (limit of envelope) during its test flights in Bengaluru last month.
A top delegation from Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) is expected to depart for Bahrain next week ahead of the air show. "It's a massive effort by the team to ensure that the planes are in good shape and ready for the demonstration. Everyone is excited since it is for the first time Tejas will be performing outside India," the officer added. 
OneIndia News

January 12, 2016

Indian Army will finally receive self-propelled K9 Vajra-T howitzer after successful evaluations

Although the bids were made under the ‘Buy Global’ provision of the defence procurement procedure, the K9 Vajra-T gun will be made at its Talegaon plant near Pune by the L&T.

Defence ministry sources told The Indian Express that the evaluation process was completed in September last year, when L&T was informed of the ministry’s decision. After completing the benchmarking process, the ministry, on December 22, opened the price bid of L&T as it was the only gun to qualify in the trials.

Ministry sources said that the price negociations with L&T will begin this month and are likely to be concluded in this financial year. The deal for 100 guns is estimated to cost between Rs 4,500 to Rs 5,000 crore ($670 million to $750 million). The contract will also have a follow-up option clause of 50 additional K9 Vajra-T guns.

The first 10 guns are to be supplied by L&T to the Army within 18 months of signing, with the balance 90 guns to be supplied in the next two years. These will be the first howitzers to be inducted in the Army after the procurement of controversial Bofors 155mm guns nearly three decades ago.
Four companies, including the Tatas, the OFB and the BEML, bid for the RFP (request for proposal) issued in January 2011. Along with L&T’s K9 Vajra-T, an upgraded version of OFB’s Russian MSTA-S SP gun participated in the field evaluation trial held from March to August 2013 at the Pokharan Field Firing Range in Rajasthan.

The K9 Vajra is a variant oft he South-Korean-made K9 155mm self-propelled howitzer especially designed for operation in the desert areas bordering Pakistan.
 World Defense News

India says closing in on French fighter plane deal

India and France are close to a deal to buy 36 combat planes from Dassault, India's defence minister said on Monday, after months of wrangling over price and other terms of the sale.
French President Francois Hollande is due in New Delhi this month as a guest of honour at a military parade and the two sides are expected to seal the pact for the Rafale fighters either just before he arrives or during the visit.
"It's closer to completion," Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told reporters. He didn't give any details.
India's air force desperately wants to replace its ageing squadrons of Soviet-era warplanes to face a two-front threat from China and Pakistan.
The defence ministry had originally cleared the purchase of 126 Rafale planes, estimated at the time to be worth $12 billion. Last year the number of planes was scaled back to 36 after the two sides could not agree on unit price and local assembly of the aircraft.
Under the new deal that India and France are trying to seal, the planes will be brought off the shelf. "The procedure is going on," Parrikar said, declining to elaborate.
New Delhi is hoping the bulk of the air force fleet will be made up by an indigenous fighter that has been three decades in the making.


January 5, 2016

Tejas fighter to make international debut at Bahrain

India’s home-grown fighter is set to debut on the international stage. The defence ministry has announced that the Tejas will perform aerobatic displays at the Bahrain International Air Show from January 21-23.
“The show will witness flying demonstration of the ‘Tejas’, the latest and state of the art Light Combat Aircraft, the ‘Four-plus’ generation and highly cost effective fighter aircraft” (sic), said the defence ministry on Friday.
This is a bold marketing move, given that the Tejas’ final operational certification is expected only by mid-2016, and just a single fighter has been delivered to the Indian Air Force (IAF). In contrast, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) made an international splash with its F-17 Thunder fighter only after inducting the fighter into squadron service.
Top officials in the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) say this is a measure of their confidence in the Tejas, which has flown in several Aero India Shows in Bengaluru.
This could be a clever gambit, provided the Tejas makes a favourable impression at Bahrain. In the recent Paris Air Show in June, the PAF’s JF-17 --- a light, cheap fighter like the Tejas, developed in partnership with China --- was eyed by several air forces that cannot afford heavy fighters.
Respected defence group, IHS Janes, quoting Pakistani officials, reported that an unnamed air force had already signed a contract for the JF-17, and that discussions were under way with 11 other air forces, including Argentina.
However, the Tejas is at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the JF-17, which the PAF has aggressively supported and marketed to bring down costs by building more aircraft. The PAF aims at inducting some 250 JF-17s, with exports orders adding to that number.
In a telling contrast, the IAF has supported the Tejas reluctantly, agreeing to accept 100 improved Tejas only after the defence minister put the squeeze last year on import-happy air marshals.
There will be high stakes at Bahrain for the IAF, DRDO and the Tejas’ manufacturer, Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). If the two Tejas fighters going to Bahrain are hamstrung by maintenance glitches, or their aerobatics performance is unimpressive, that would seriously jeopardise prospects for future exports.
“A fighter participating in an international air show is scrutinised like a Miss Universe contestant. Every mole of the Tejas will be scrutinised in Bahrain”, warns Pushpindar Singh, aerospace expert and editor of Vayu magazine.
Singh also wonders why Bahrain has been chosen for the Tejas’ debut. “Last month’s Dubai Air Show was the world’s third biggest air show after Farnborough (in UK) and Paris (in France). Even next month’s Singapore Air Show would provide a bigger audience,” he says.
The Tejas is regarded as technologically superior to the JF-17, and only somewhat more expensive. Built largely of light composite materials, the Tejas carries more fuel and weapons. A fourth-generation fighter, it has an “unstable design” that makes it more manoeuvrable than the JF-17, which has a “relaxed stability” design.
Aerospace experts say the JF-17 is basically a heavily re-engineered MiG-type fighter. In contrast, the Tejas represents a technology leap, with its quadruplex, fly-by-wire system that stabilises it in flight.
The participating Tejas fighters will fly in mid-January from Bengaluru, via Jamnagar and Muscat, to the Sakhir Air Base in Bahrain where the show will be held.
The defence ministry has also announced that the IAF’s Sarang helicopter aerobatics team, which has impressed audiences in Berlin and Farnborough, will perform at Bahrain. 


Japan to deliver 12 amphibious aircraft to Indian Navy


(UPI) -- Japan is scheduled to deliver 12 Utility Seaplane Mark 2 amphibious search-and-rescue aircraft to the Indian Navy.
The delivery is part of a $1.65 billion deal reached between both governments to facilitate the export of the aircraft. The deal was signed following Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to India, where leaders from both countries agreed to further their cooperation on procuring defense and security equipment, according to The Hindu Business Line.
The "agreement provides a framework to enhance defense and security co-operation by making available to each other, defense equipment and technology necessary to implement joint research, development and production," sources told The Hindu.
The Utility Seaplane Mark 2 is the basis for the model known as the US-2i for India. It has the same capability as the US-2, with some equipment modifications specific to India's requirements. The plane, crewed by 11, is capable of carrying 20 passengers or 12 stretchers for search-and-rescue missions.
The first two US-2i will be imported, while the remaining 10 are scheduled to be manufactured in India.

January 4, 2016

Long Range Missile: In the halo of its success, navy to arm 23 top warships

With the successful firing from the Goan coast of the Indo-Israel Long Range Surface To Air Missile (LRSAM) - a weapon which can neutralise aerial threats up to 100km from a ship - the floodgates have opened.
With the successful firing from the Goan coast of the Indo-Israel Long Range Surface To Air Missile (LRSAM) - a weapon which can neutralise aerial threats up to 100km from a ship - the floodgates have opened. It is learnt that the navy plans to equip as many as 23 top warships, slated to serve the navy for the next 50 years at least, with this protective shield. These include aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates.
The largest among them will be the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya when it is time for its mid-life upgradation (MLU), the two indigenous aircraft carriers being designed and built, the three Delhi-class of destroyers (built under Project 15), three Kolkata class destroyers (Project 15A), four Vishakhpatnam class destroyers (project 15B), three Shivalik class (Project 17) during MLU and seven frigates under Project 17A.
Next month will mark a decade to the first step taken in providing naval ships an unprecedented cover from aerial threats. That milestone would have been crossed, fruitlessly, but for the tightly-scripted program which fructified today at 8:15am, off the Goan coast from the INS Kolkata. However, the program was hardly bereft of its hiccups and a colourful background.LRSAM, as it began, would have consisted not more than three systems and about 100 odd missiles. The range - protective bubble the missile provides to the ship it is fired from or the convoy intended to secure - too would've been far lesser than the approximately 100km (farthest) and 500m (shortest) demonstrated successfully. Delays in the project, attributed to the technical hiccups faced by both partners, gave sufficient elbow room to their planners to 'push' for upgrading the system to ensure it remained contemporary. "If your food is going to take time in preparation, it should at least be hot and tasty when served," is how an officer put it.  
Contract was signed between India's Defence Research and Development Laboratory and Israel's Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). To the Indian side came the responsibility of developing the rear section of the missile whereas the lion's share, which included the front as well as the Multi Function Surveillance and Threat Alert Radar (MF-STAR) went to the latter. It was to be delivered for the INS Kolkata by 2010. However, neither was the ship ready by then nor was the missile.
"Two causes, apart from external factors, made us take time. First the DRDL had difficulty in developing the rocket motor and the Israelis found the same in coming up with servo control systems," explained a source.
Following the successful test in Israel on November 10  2014, a plan was chalked out. Under this, first came the Harbour Acceptance Trial (HAT) where the INS Kolkata integrated with its systems all the components of the system including MF-STAR, sensor but not the missile.
 This phase lasted from August 16-27 this year. When this was smoothened, next came Sea Acceptance Trials (SAT) which took place between October and November. "Everything short of firing  the actual missile happened. We even flew the MiG29K as an intruder aircraft to see if the LRSAM could track and take it on and it did. Then came the white run, just a few days ago," said a source. This was when even a missile was fired along with the MiG29K flown in.
Finally, on December 28, about half a dozen LRSAMs were taken on board, most operational, few inert. These were the missiles which gave the navy its most advanced cover till date.While some more tests will be performed in the coming days, six months from now, the INS Kolkata, INS Kochi will get its set of missiles making these modern ships complete in their capabilities to take on aerial threats.
As of now, the navy uses the Barak 1 as its primary shield. It grants ranges of up to 9km.
A senior admiral termed it 'practically, among the best systems in the world'. He said, "The Israelis announced their intention to work on Barak 8 and we too were looking at something in that range and thus the decision taken to collaborate." While there were a number of missile systems available, only a few could take on a plane, a missile or a sea-skimming missile flying metres above the sea surface - this was the one. "The LRSAM has displayed its ability to negate 'nodding' - a phenomenon which takes place when a tracking radar is unable to lock on to the target flying at a significant pace close to the surface - which makes it such a good system," he added.


January 2, 2016

Russia, India sign deal to assemble 200 Ka-226Т helicopters

Russia and India signed an agreement to assemble no less than 200 Ka-226T helicopters in India, state technologies corporation Rostec said Monday.
According to the corporation, the agreement also provides for technical support, maintenance, operation and repair of helicopters.
"The State Corporation Rostec will organize in India the production of the Russian Ka-226T helicopter and its modifications in the amount of not less than 200 units," the statement reads.
A preliminary agreement on the production of Ka-226T light multirole helicopters — NATO reporting name Hoodlum — was reached after talks between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in December 2014.
Having agreed to make these helicopters in India, Russia was offered an initial deal for manufacture of almost 200 of these helicopters, with the potential to increase the number by another 400.
With a maximum take-off weight of 4,000 tons, the Ka-226T is designed for cargo and passenger transportation to hard-to-reach mountainous areas and rescue and patrol operations.
The helicopter is equipped with two Arrius 2G1 engines made by the Turbomeca Company. The passenger version of this aircraft can carry up to seven people, while the transport version can carry one ton of cargo inside the fuselage or via an external sling. For transportation of oversized cargo, a high-capacity cargo platform can be installed instead of the regular transport cabin.
Ka-226T is scheduled to replace the Cheetah and Chetak helicopters currently being used by the Indian Army. 


Goa is permanent venue for DefExpo, Aero India: RTI docus

Panaji: Contradicting chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar's assertion that a decision is yet to be made on hosting the Defexpo permanently in Goa, right to information (RTI) documents TOI has in possession show that the state government has already agreed "in-principle" to making Goa a permanent venue for the Aero India Show and for the Defexpo. Going further, the state government has already recommended infrastructural works to prepare for the military exhibition.

RTI documents clearly show a note from principal secretary, industries saying that GIDC "will have to give consent" to allot land for permanent venue of DefExpo and Aero India.

The file also states that it had been resolved to allot 150 acres of land to the ministry of defence for organizing Defexpo 2016 and as a permanent venue for Aero India.

"Goa should be a permanent venue for Aero India Show, there should be fixed income to GIDC and incorporate a clause to repossess the land in case the show is shifted elsewhere in the future," under secretary, industries Shashank Thakur says in a handwritten note on September 17, 2015.

On Thursday, Parsekar had tried to assert that Goa would be a temporary location for Defexpo and that the land would be leased only for four days. "The chief minister is lying to the people. The project will require widening of roads to accommodate, heavy military equipment, large containers and trucks and for this nearby houses will have to be destroyed," president GenNext Durgadas Kamat alleged.RTI documents also show that defence minister Manohar Parrikar had written on June 12 to Parsekar asking for a 10,000 feet long runway along the coastline and the development of a modern and ideal convention centre. Speaking in September, Parrikar had said, "Talk about moving the air show to a different city has been doing the rounds before I took charge as the defence minister. Right now, we don't have any plans for a change of venue."

The state government in a meeting on October 12 at the secretariat has recommended widening of roads from the main highway, repair of internal roads, raising of electrical cables and erection of CISF observation towers, RTI documents indicate.GIDC at its 344th board meeting held on July 15 resolved to grant an in-principle approval for allotment of 150 acres of land in Quitol Industrial estate to the ministry of defence on a permanent basis for organizing the Defexpo and Aero India show.

Around 600 companies, including 300 foreign military equipment manufacturers are expected to participate in Defexpo 2016.