August 19, 2017

'Drone sale to India would cement bilateral ties with US'

The US decision to sell 22 Sea Guardian drones to India at an estimated cost of $2 billion will create around 2,000 jobs in the US and "cement" bilateral ties, an American executive involved in the deal has said.

"This should be viewed as a significant step in cementing the US-India bilateral defence relationship," Vivek Lall, chief executive US and international strategic development, General Atomics, told the Atlantic on Friday.

Lall echoed Senator John Cornyn, co-chair of the Senate India Caucus, who tweeted, "Drone Sale Would Cement US-India Ties."

The announcement in this regard was made by Trump in June when he met Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the White House.

This prospective purchase of drones manufactured by General Atomics marks the first of its kind from the US by a country that is not a member of the NATO, Lall said.

With China focused on South China Sea, Lall hopes that India has an opportunity to help create and lead a regional balance of power to protect its interests in the Indian Ocean region by building maritime engagements with regional and extra-regional partners.

The Sea Guardian is a variant of the tested MQ-9 platform which allows for greater interoperability with the US and allied forces, in a way other platforms do not permit demonstrating the centrality of General Atomics' products to India's defence needs, he said.

"This platform has 4 million hours in combat, will be able to certifiably fly in Indian civilian airspace and can remain airborne more than a record setting forty hours. Additionally, it has a 40,000-hour design life demonstrating its unique resilience. General Atomics maintains that this platform and its proven performance stands independently of and is unaffected by Israel's Heron sales to India," he said.

This summer, India received 10 advanced Heron drones from Israel for $400 million, making Israel a weapons supplier competitor to the United States.

According to Lall, use of the Sea Guardian drones by the Indian Navy will also develop India's credible capabilities, which is significant for Indian maritime security and naval power projection.


August 18, 2017

India to Buy $75 million Ukrainian Engines for Russia Made Frigates

After Crimea fallout, Russia and Ukraine suspended all defense ties which rendered the under-construction Admiral Grigorovich class frigates of limited operational use to Russian Navy until they were re-engined with Russian alternative which is expected to be ready only by 2020.India’s defense acquisition council has sanctioned$75 million for acquiring M7N.1E gas turbine engines from Ukraine for powering the two Grigorovich class frigates that are expected to soon arrive in India from Russia.
 India had agreed to purchase the two frigates Admiral Butakov and Admiral Istomin as part of a $4billion order for four Russian frigates. As per the deal signed in 2016, two other Grigorovich class frigates would be constructed at the facility of Goa Shipyard Limited in India.Admiral Butakov and Admiral Istomin almost fully built at Russia’s Yantar Shipyard at Kaliningrad were originally designed to be fitted with Ukraine built gas turbine engines but after the Crimean fallout, Russia stopped importing the engines from Ukraine, rendering the fleet of little use for the Russian Navy. Russia and India then agreed to utilize the frigates for the Indian Navy which was already operating its predecessor, the Talwar class frigates.
India struck a separate agreement with Ukraine which offered to directly export the M7N.1E gas turbine plant to India after much discussion in 2016.  It has also been agreed upon that a subsequent deal would be struck for acquiring similar engines for the other two frigates that are to be built at the Goa shipyard.


India Seals Deal With China’s Arch-Rival Vietnam For Supply Of BrahMos Missiles

Even as India and China continue to reinforce their positions in Doklam militarily, New Delhi and Hanoi have reportedly struck a deal for the supply of Indo-Russian BrahMos supersonic anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles to Vietnam, one of Beijing’s arch-rivals in the region, Livefist Defence has reported.
A report in VN Express, an English-language Vietnamese daily, appeared to confirm the purchase today. However, according to Livefist, the newspaper later altered its headline to play down the report. No official word has been released by India’s Defence Ministry on this issue.

“The arms purchase is in line with Vietnam’s peaceful national defense policies aimed at protecting the country,” the daily had quoted Vietnam’s Foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang as saying.
Security cooperation between India and Vietnam is not a new development. The two countries have been discussing the deal for the past few years. India has already supplied patrol vessels to Vietnam and has been providing military training to the country’s submarine crews and pilots as both New Delhi and Hanoi operate equipment of Russian and Soviet origin.
India and Vietnam are also known to be in discussion for the supply of Defence Research and Development Organisation’s Akash missile systems.


General Atomics targets first big international Avenger drone sale

Fewer than a dozen Avenger drones have been purchased since the product first flew in 2009, but General Atomics believes it may be able to sell about 90 aircraft in the next few years to a single international buyer, its president said Wednesday.

General Atomics has struggled to find a major customer for the Avenger, also called the Predator C, since the collapse of the U.S. Air Force’s MQ-X program and the U.S. Navy’s UCLASS program, both of which sought out UAVs that could survive contested environments.

But speaking to reporters on Aug. 16, GA president David Alexander said the company was engaged with an unnamed foreign nation on a potential Avenger purchase.

“A quantity of 90. It would be a big program,” he said.

Robert Walker, senior director of strategic development, added that “a lot of work” needs to be done to refine the requirements and that details were still being ironed out.

Although GA officials would not spell out which country is interested in the UAV, signs point to India. In April 2016, Reuters reported that India’s Air Force had inquired about the potential procurement of up to 100 Predator Cs.

Even if India, if it is the unnamed country interested in the Avenger, decides to press on with the sale — which is especially uncertain given the country’s fondness for rapidly changing weapons acquisition plans — it is unclear whether the United States would agree to export the armed UAVs. Unmanned aircraft are currently subject to the Missile Technology Control Regime, which spells out a “presumption of denial” for Category I systems like the Avenger.

Further export controls enacted during the Obama administration made it difficult to export many UAVs outside of NATO countries and other treaty allies.

“That restriction probably existed a long time before that as an unspoken reality, but the formalization in 2015 formalized the strictness of that interpretation,” General Atomics’ CEO Linden Blue said. “Which means if you’re not in NATO, or you’re not Japan, South Korea or Australia, forget it.”That Obama-era policy is now under review by the Trump administration, which could open a path for an Avenger sale to India, a longtime partner nation of the United States that has been denied armed UAVs in the past, or other interested countries that have trouble getting weaponized drones.

Within defense circles, General Atomics is known for its reticence and protectiveness of its intellectual property, with its top executives and program managers seldom engaging with the press. But as unmanned systems become more pervasive, the company is slowly opening up — it held its first-ever media open house at its Poway, California, headquarters on Aug. 15 and 16.

Defense reporters got to see GA’s Avenger prototype, Angel One, during a trip to the company’s hangars at Gray Butte Field Airport. Angel One — which is slightly smaller than the production version of the Avenger — has been configured for humanitarian aid missions such as airdropping food rations from its expansive payload bay.

However, most details about the Avenger continue to be tightly guarded, with company officials saying they were not permitted to talk about the operational use of the aircraft for classification reasons.

GA has acknowledged the production of up to nine Avenger aircraft: the Angel One prototype that the company currently still owns; one bought by the U.S. Air Force; and no more than seven units owned by a classified U.S. government customer, Alexander said.

Unlike its older brothers, the MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper, the Avenger features a jet engine and internal weapons bay, making it less visible to radar.

“It’s a very affordable aircraft. It’s high altitude with a very large sensor bay,” he said. The extended-range Avenger has a maximum payload of 6,000 pounds, including internal storage for up to 3,860 pounds of equipment.

That could accommodate systems equivalent to the MS-177 multispectral sensor, which is being tested aboard Northrop Grumman’s RQ-4 Global Hawk in the hopes of bringing its surveillance capability up to the levels of the U-2 Dragon Lady spy plane.“So if you wanted to fly this aircraft and look into somebody else’s country, deep in, something like that — that would be a sensor so big that you can’t really put it on an MQ-9,” he said. “Anything that carries something large within the airframe, that aircraft has an advantage. Like a laser weapon can fit in there, for example.”


India mine-sweeper program hits another roadblock

Goa Shipyard Limited’s quest to build 12 high-tech mine countermeasure vessels for $5 billion, which is already delayed, has hit a roadblock over the selection of propulsion engines.

According to a source in India’s Ministry of Defence, the Navy supports a multi-vendor tender process for the engine selection, but Goa Shipyard, citing reservations from Kangnam Corporation of South Korea, prefers a single-vendor nomination of German MTU engines.

Goa Shipyard of India, which is state-owned, was nominated by the MoD to make 12 MCMVs for the Indian Navy. Kangnam was selected to provide the technology needed to build the vessels because India does not possess the required technology.

The Kangam-built MCMVs for the South Korean Navy are fitted with German MTU engines, and the company is offering the same to India. However, the Indian Navy is skeptical about the suitability of German MTU engines for Indian MCMVs because of the differences in geographical location and areas of operation.

India’s coastline is about 7,500 kilometers ― larger than that of South Korea.

“The magnetic signature of engines are key parameters for selection of an engine for MCMV, whose primary function is to detect and kill mines at sea. German MTU engines are not inherently nonmagnetic as they are not designed specifically for MCMV operations,” a senior Indian government official said.

“Their magnetism is suppressed using external magnet and other specialized, external systems, and these systems are required to be continuously returned to keep magnetic signature of ship within limits as ship sails from one port to another,” the official continued.

The retuning, the official added, is not practical in a warlike situation “where assets are required to be deployed at different ports of India at a very short notice.”An Indian Navy official said of the matter: “Even U.S. Navy, whose operational specifications are similar to that of Indian Navy as far the wide theater of mine-hunting operations is concerned, does not use magnetically compensated MTU engines in their mine-hunting ships but use inherently nonmagnetized engines available in the market.”

There’s concern that selecting an engine incompatible with the mission would jeopardize the MCMV’s main purpose.

“Engine whose magnetic signatures are required to be suppressed using external systems put a serious restriction on the mine-hunting capabilities of the vessel once the geographical location of the vessel is changed. We would like to have an engine with very low magnetic signature so that the vessel is capable of undertaking mine-hunting operations worldwide, especially in the Indian Ocean region, which is the primary theater of operation for Indian Navy”, according to another Indian Navy official.

An official with the MoD said the ministry will ask Goa Shipyard to explore further options for an Indian MCMV engine that best suits the needs of the Navy.

“We are technically evaluating the matter and will soon arrive at decision best suited for the operational interests of Indian Navy,” the first Navy official said.


August 17, 2017

China's threat to teach India a 'bigger lesson' than it did in 1962

As the Doklam standoff drags on, China continues its sabre rattling against India.

It has threatened to teach a bigger lesson to India than it did in 1962 when it carried out a surprise trans-Himalayan invasion just when the world faced the spectre of a nuclear Armageddon during the Cuban missile crisis between the United States and the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Today, China's warmongering against India is occurring at a time when another missile crisis is haunting international security - North Korea's threat to target America's Gaum island territory with ballistic missiles.


But while China was not involved in the Cuban missile crisis, it is central today to the US strategy against North Korea.

A US-North Korea military conflict could easily draw in China, which has vowed to support the hermit kingdom in the event of an American preemptive strike.

Consequently, Beijing confronts the possibility of war on two separate fronts - the Korean Peninsula and the Himalayas.

This could be one reason why China thus far has not acted on its unremitting threats since June 26 to teach India a lesson. India, however, cannot afford to be complacent.

Just because Chinese President Xi Jinping's regime has not attacked India thus far does not mean that it won't act even if it finds circumstances propitious for action.

New Delhi cannot overlook the fact that China has been systematically mobilising domestic and international support for a possible war with India, which it has painted as the aggressor while claiming to be the aggrieved party.

For example, after weeks of shrill war rhetoric, China released a 15-page position paper on August 2 that accused India of 'invading Chinese terby ritory'.

It came a day after President Xi, in a speech marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army, vowed not to permit the loss of 'any piece' of Chinese land 'at any time or in any form'.

The position paper released by the external affairs ministry obfuscated key facts, including China's attempt to alter the status quo by intruding into disputed territory, as it has successfully done in the South China Sea without incurring any costs.

The paper essentially was a compilation of what China had previously released through a series of official statements since the standoff began.

The only new elements were two claims - that India had pulled out most troops from Doklam (an assertion that proved to be false), and that it had notified India in advance of its road-building plan.

But if India is an outside party with no role in Doklam, as the paper claimed, why was it pre-notified?

Accords ::

Tellingly, China has remained silent on its violation of bilateral accords cited by Bhutan (1988, 1998) and India (2012). It, however, has repeatedly but selectively cited an 1890 colonial-era agreement of dubious relevance to the Doklam dispute.

Bhutan was not a party to the 1890 accord, which, in any case, identifies the watershed principle for defining the boundary.

The highest ridge line separating river flows runs through Batang-la, not Mount Gipmochi, making Doklam part of Bhutan.

The standoff has highlighted China's three-warfare doctrine - waging media, legal and psychological warfares to 'win without fighting', in Sun Tzu style, and, in case it failed, to prepare the ground for military operations.

A fusillade of fresh warnings to India to back down or face dire consequences has been delivered just this month by the Chinese defence and foreign ministries, the People's Daily, the People's Liberation Army Daily, the Xinhua news agency, and other state mouthpieces.

Actually, China's unceasing war rhetoric against India has paralleled US President Donald Trump's apocalyptic threats against North Korea.

But even as China's harsh words and warmongering against India persist, Xi, paradoxically, has sought to present himself as the voice of reason by calling for US restraint on North Korea.

The American press has published Xi's call for dialogue and negotiations to find a diplomatic solution to the North Korea issue without citing his opposition to similarly settle the Doklam issue with India.

Even as Xi urged the US to stop hurling threats at North Korea, Beijing has been busy hurling almost daily threats at India.

Strategy ::

The Doklam crisis shows India has yet to develop a countervailing strategy to China's three-warfare doctrine, aimed at achieving goals through non-kinetic weaponry. China's bullet-less 'three warfares' against India since June 26 mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi's assertion at the St Petersburg International Economic Forum in Russia in early June that - despite the boundary dispute - 'not a single bullet has been fired.'

In fact, China, without firing a shot, has been chipping away at Indian and Bhutanese lands for years.

India must be vigilant that China's bullet-less aggression can rapidly turn into a full-fledged, 1962-style invasion.

Deception, tactical surprise, shrewd timing and blitzkrieg (lightning war) have been common elements in China's use of military force since 1950 in order to stun the enemy and achieve quick results.

India must be ever ready to battle the enemy with its full strength, ingenuity and ability, and inflict serious reverses on the invading forces.


Indian Defense Sector Opens up to Private Players; Clears $2.8 Bln of Orders

Indian private companies would have to forge a joint venture with foreign firms for the purpose of manufacturing specific products with complete transfer of technology. The foreign firms, however, would not hold a majority stake in such joint ventures.

The Indian Army has selected eleven priority defense projects worth $2.8 billion to be awarded to the private sector, in what is being seen as a bid to hasten the plugging of critical shortage.

The contracts mainly comprise development and manufacturing of arms and equipment including short range unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced robotic surveillance systems, 1200-1500 HP modular engine for tank T-90 S/SK, and third generation missile for 125mm gun barrels of T-90 And T-72 Tanks. The biggest of the contracts is the manufacturing of modular engine for T-90 tanks. The project alone is pegged at $1.5 billion.

Development of short-range remotely piloted aircraft system has an indicative cost of approximately $350 million. The Indian Army wants to purchase the robotic surveillance platform for the Rashtriya Rifles battalions which primarily tracks terrorist hide-outs in urban or built up areas.

The Indian Army has not fixed a definite timeline for such purchases. However, earlier this year, the defense ministry had indicated that arms and ammunitions worth $3 billion would be purchased from domestic manufacturers over the next decade. Till recently, projects involving the production of arms and ammunitions were exclusively awarded to government owned ordnance factories.

Due to lack of domestic orders, India’s private defense firms were not making much profit. Since the state owned ordnance factories were able to achieve only 80 percent target for over 51 percent of the total projects in the last four years, the Government decided to open up the sector to private players.

Apart from the above-mentioned contracts, the Ministry of Defense recently floated tenders for the supply of 125mm armor piercing guns for T-90 & T-72 tanks, 40mm multiple grenade launcher/under barrel grenade launcher, 30mm ammunition used by armored infantry carrying vehicle, 122mm grad rockets for Pinaka series and bi-modular charge system.

The tender requires Indian private companies to forge a joint venture with foreign firms for the purpose of manufacturing specific products with complete transfer of technology. The foreign firm, however, would not hold a major stake in such joint venture.


After clash in Ladakh, India braces for more 'shallow intrusions' by PLA

  • Indian forces are bracing for more “shallow intrusions” by China in vulnerable spots
  • The two forces held a border personnel meeting (BPM) in eastern Ladakh yesterday
  • On Tuesday, Indian and Chinese soldiers pelted stones at each other near Pangong Lake

The Indian forces are bracing for more "shallow intrusions" or "needling probes" from China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) in vulnerable spots along the Line of Actual Control (LAC), according to sources in the Indian defence establishment.

This assessment comes even as the two forces held a border personnel meeting (BPM) in eastern Ladakh on Wednesday to calm down tempers, a day after Indian and Chinese soldiers pelted stones at each other near Pangong Lake.

The PLA is unlikely to try anything near the already restive Sikkim-Bhutan-Sikkim tri-junction because Indian troops are militarily much better-placed there and can easily threaten China's narrow Chumbi Valley in the region, if required, the according to India's assessment. "But the PLA could try something in eastern Ladakh, as was seen on Tuesday, or eastern Arunachal Pradesh or Lipulekh Pass and Barahoti in the central sector (Himachal-Uttarakhand)," one of the sources said.

The Indian defence establishment, however, is sticking to its belief that China will not risk a full-fledged war despite its major build-up of troops, artillery, air defence, armoured and other units in the southern part of the Tibet Military District that falls under the Western Theatre Command (WTC) of the PLA, after the Doklam confrontation erupted on the eastern front in mid-June.

The stepped-up "needling" in some areas along the 4,057-km LAC, which stretches from Ladakh to Arunachal, will be part of the PLA's game-plan to ratchet up pressure on India to unilaterally withdraw from the face-off site in the Bhutanese territory of Doklam before winter sets in November-December. "India is ready for mutual troop withdrawal to defuse the stand-off. But China is not. So, our troops are prepared for the long haul," said the source.

But the channels of communication are also being kept open, with some sweeteners thrown in for good measure. Though the PLA declined the invite for the August 15 celebrations at different BPM points on the LAC, Indian soldiers did hand over "sweets" to their Chinese counterparts at multiple locations, including Doklam, on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, at the longish BPM held at Spanggur Gap in Chushul sector of Ladakh in the afternoon, official sources said the two armies led by brigadier-rank officers discussed the "incident" at the Pangong Tso (Tso means lake) as well as the need "to strengthen the existing mechanism to maintain peace and tranquility" to avoid confrontations.

Usually, the troops pull back after some jostling and banner drills in the disputed "Finger-5 to Finger-8" (mountainous spurs) area on the northern bank of the 134-km long Pangong Tso, two-thirds of which is controlled by China as it extends from Tibet to India.

But on Wednesday, they hurled stones and used iron rods to injure each other for the first time in recent years, in a clear indicator of the tense situation prevailing along the entire LAC. Pangong Tso, which is located at an altitude of 13,900-feet across the Changla Pass, and other areas like Chumar, Trig Heights and Depsang in eastern Ladakh have emerged as major flashpoints over the recent years.

Indian troops till some years ago were at a huge disadvantage in the Pangong Lake, saddled as they were with old patrol boats. There were even a few instances of faster and sturdier Chinese boats ramming into Indian ones to disable them. But after the Indian troops inducted 17 new high-speed interceptor boats, each of which can carry 16 to 18 soldiers, they have been conducting strong reconnaissance and area domination patrols in the region over the last few years.


India Looks for New Partner to Arm its Scorpene Class Submarine

Cancellation of the Black Shark torpedo deal has had a crippling impact on Indian Navy’s plan of lending teeth to its fleet of six under-construction submarines, two of which are ready to be inducted any time soon.
 The Indian Navy is looking to purchase heavyweight torpedoes to be mounted on the Scorpene class submarines, production of which is currently underway at the Mazagon dock shipyard.
The Navy has reportedly contacted a number of global firms for a deal under the Strategic Partnership route that envisages that an Indian private company will tie up with a foreign manufacturer willing to transfer technology. In return, the government will assure orders and allow exports as well.Project75, under which the six Scorpene class submarines are being built with the help of French firm DCNS, originally envisaged equipping the submarines with Black Shark heavyweight torpedo as their primary weapons. However, in June last year, the Indian government cancelled a $200 million deal with Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS), a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica, due to corruption allegations involving another Finmeccanica subsidiary, Agusta Westland.
The INS Kalavvari, to be inducted in the Indian Navy by end of August has successfully undergone a series of weapons trials including the test firing of a German SeaHake torpedo and the launch of a French-made Exocet SM39 anti-ship missile, already in use by the Indian forces.. The second Scorpene class submarine christened INS-Khanderi is also on the final stages of sea trial and is expected to be formally inducted in the Indian Navy by the end of this year.
According to sources, the Indian Navy needs at least 24 submarines to maintain a minimum force level but it has only about 15 subs. Of the 15, half of them are used in a restricted manner or not at optimum level and are kept as war reserves. The Indian Navy expects the Scorpene class submarines, which operate very silently and are capable of multifarious roles, to add teeth to the might of the Indian Navy by strengthening its crucial Submarine Arm.

- sputniknews

August 16, 2017

Tejas fighter finally achieves production target

Eight Tejas to roll out this year; heavily outsourced to private sector

Since December 2013, when the indigenous Tejas fighter was operationally cleared to join the Indian Air Force (IAF), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has struggled to establish an assembly line that could build the homegrown light fighter quickly and cheaply.
With just three Tejas delivered until this year out of the 20 ordered in 2013, the IAF’s complaint that the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) had taken too long in development gave way to the charge that HAL was not building the fighter fast enough to replace the IAF’s retiring MiG fighters.
HAL’s manufacturing shortfall became even starker last November, when the defence ministry cleared the acquisition of 83 more Tejas 1A fighters. This successor to the Tejas Mark 1, with four specified capability improvements, is required to enter production in 2019. This plan hinges on establishing a high-capacity assembly line.
Now, finally, HAL’s Tejas assembly line in Benguluru is meeting its targets. On a visit by Business Standard to the Tejas assembly line, HAL chief T Suvarna Raju has confirmed that eight Tejas fighters will roll off the line this year – the rated capacity of the assembly line.
Furthermore, with an additional investment of Rs 1,231 crore sanctioned for enhancing capacity, the Tejas line is projected to build 10 fighters in 2018-19; and 16 Tejas Mark 1As each year from 2019-20 onwards.
Thereafter, the line is expected to build the Tejas Mark II fighter, an advanced variant of the Tejas with a more powerful General Electric F-414 engine and upgraded avionics.
Outsourcing to private defence firms has been key to achieving HAL’s production targets. “HAL is now focusing mainly on putting together large assemblies that are built and supplied by private aerospace companies. That has allowed us to speed up work exponentially”, says Raju.
HAL has created five “Tier-1” suppliers that each build a part of the Tejas. The front fuselage is supplied by Dynamatic Technologies Ltd, Bengaluru; the centre fuselage by VEM Technologies, Hyderabad; rear fuselage by Alpha Tocol, Bengaluru; wings by Larsen & Toubro, Coimbatore; and the tail fin and rudder by National Aerospace Laboratory and Tata Advanced Materials Ltd.
Each of these Tier-1 suppliers sources components and sub-assemblies from lower-order Tier-2 and Tier-3 suppliers, creating an aerospace industry around the Tejas.
In addition, a range of equipment is sourced from other private firms that are emerging as players in the aerospace realm: avionics racks and air intakes from Lakshmi Machine Works, Coimbatore; electrical panels from Amphenol, Pune; slats and elevons from Aequs, Belgaum; pipelines from Rangson, Mysore, and precision mechanical assemblies from Sri Koteswara Cam Systems, Secunderabad.
HAL plans to eventually outsource 69 per cent of the production of Tejas structural modules, with just 31 per cent of the work done in-house – consisting mainly of assembly and equipping work.
A visit by Business Standard to the Tejas production hanger reveals the most technologically advanced production line that HAL has ever set up – significantly more high-tech than the Hawk advanced jet trainer line that was established with BAE Systems.
The production jigs, on which Tejas components are fabricated, are calibrated with lasers to an accuracy of 50-80 microns (one micron is one-thousandth of a millimeter). This ensures repeatability, which means that every component coming off a jig is precisely the same, and can be switched across aircraft.
There are also robotic machines to drill the thousands of holes that are required in each Tejas’ carbon “skin”. These robots drill in two days what manual drillers earlier took two months to do.

“It earlier took us 19 months to build a Tejas, from start to finish. This is now down to 11 months, and we will be building each Tejas in nine months by September this year”, says Raju.
HAL’s plan for expanding Tejas production to 16 fighters per year involves establishing a second assembly line. This has physically replaced the Hawk trainer line that is close to completing delivery of its orders.
The cost of Rs 1,231 crore is being half-funded by HAL, with the IAF and navy picking up the tab for the other half.
Tejas production schedule    
Upto March 31, 2017
3 Tejas Mk 1
3 Tejas Mk 1
IOC configuration
2017 – 2018
8 Tejas Mk 1
11 Tejas Mk 1
IOC configuration
2018 – 2019
10 Tejas Mk 1
20 Tejas Mk 1
5 single-seat IOC
4 twin-seat IOC
1 (spare capacity)
2019 – 2020
16 Tejas Mk 1A
20 Tejas Mk 1
16 Tejas Mk 1A
2020 – 2024
67 Tejas
20 Tejas Mk 1
83 Tejas Mk 1A
2024-25 onward
Tejas Mark II

(IOC: Initial Operational Configuration)

-  ajaishukla

Indian Navy goes hunting for heavyweight torpedoes for submarines, approaches global companies

The Indian Navy has approached a select few global manufacturers to buy heavyweight torpedoes for submarines. Heavyweight torpedoes are critical for submarines and the Indian Navy has an acute shortage of these torpedoes.

India will be getting its Kalvari Class submarines - conventional diesel- electric boats made by DCNS of France - soon after a gap of three decades. These submarines, however, won't have any heavyweight torpedoes. Without the heavyweight torpedoes, the new submarines will be almost "toothless." The next of the Kalvari class - INS Khanderi - is expected to join the Indian Navy by end 2017.

This May, India cancelled its previous contract to buy 98 Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes at an estimated cost of $200 million. The manufactures of the torpedo - Whitehead Alenia Systemi Subacquei (WASS) - is a subsidiary of Italian arms manufacturer Finmeccanica. The Italian arms manufacturing giant was blacklisted after it was alleged that another subsidiary of the company - AgustaWestland - had paid bribes to secure a contract to sell 12 medium lift helicopters to India.

Sources told India Today, that the select foreign manufacturers will have to choose their Indian partners and that torpedoes will be manufactured using the Strategic-Partnership (SP) route.

The Modi-led NDA government is keen to reduce India's dependence on foreign equipment manufactures. It has opened up defence manufacturing to Indian private sector.

The SP route envisages that the Indian private companies will tie-up foreign manufactures to get technology and in return the government will assure orders and allow exports as well.


India Wants To Breathe Extra Life Into Its Old Jaguar Jets By Adding New Radars

India says it has successfully test flown a modified Jaguar multi-role aircraft with a foreign-made active electronically-scanned array (AESA) type radar. Depending on how extensive this upgrade program becomes, it could be a significant boon for the Indian Air Force, which has struggled with modernizing its diverse fleets of fighter and multi-role jets.

T. Suvarna Raju, chairman of the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics, Limited (HAL), made the announcement on Aug. 11, 2017, according to a report by The Hindu. HAL would not say what radar it used, but it is reportedly the Israeli Elta ELM-2052, which that company reportedly agreed to supply in 2015 for both the Jaguar and Indian-designed Tejas fighter jet.

HAL said the new radar alone could give the nearly 40-year old Jaguars, which it built under license from the Anglo-French consortium SEPECAT, at least another decade of service at life. “An Indian fighter flying with an AESA radar is in itself a landmark,” Raju told The Hindu.

No other Indian multi-role jets, including the country’s Russian-made Mig-29K Fulcrum and license-built Su-30MKI Flanker fighter jets, as well as the Tejas Mk 1 prototypes, have a fast-scanning AESA in the nose. According to Elta, the ELM-2052 has air-to-air, air-to-ground, and air-to-sea modes, which can track multiple targets at once and provide moving target indication and mapping functionality.

Adding an AESA radar to the Jaguars makes good sense and would give pilots the ability to detect more targets at greater ranges and with better fidelity, as well as being better able to resist jamming. Many air forces, including the U.S. Air Force see the new units as a relatively simple way to squeeze more capability of older jets in general. Perhaps the biggest limiting factor is finding a radar that will fit within the pre-existing radar space on any particular aircraft, but some modern AESA designs, like the ELM-2052, are modular in nature and get substantial capability out of a small radar aperture size. Elta boasts that it can size the ELM-2052’s antenna to fit where ever it needs to go, including in the tight confines of the Jaguar’s nose radome.

The Indian radar installation also shows important progress on the broader and long-running Display Attack Ranging Inertial Navigation III (DARIN III) upgrade program for the Jaguars, which began in 2009. The Indian Air Force had launched the first DARIN modernization project in the 1990s followed by a second round of upgrades in the early 2000s.The first DARIN III prototypes didn’t fly until 2012 and reportedly “could not meet expectations,” according to India Today. At that time, HAL wasn’t expected to complete the improvements on an estimated 50 to 60 of India’s approximately 120 Jaguars until 2019. The Indian Air Force said the first two-seat Jaguar IB trainers with the DARIN III modifications had reached initial operational capability in November 2016.

It’s is not clear how many of the Jaguars will ultimately receive the AESA radar update, either. India’s 18 Jaguar IM versions, optimized for maritime strike missions carrying Sea Eagle and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, have a traditional profile nose cone, but the IS multi-role variant has a narrower chiseled front end housing a combination laser range finder and target designator.

HAL could have to develop an entirely new nose section to fit the ELM-2052 onto the IS aircraft, which make up the bulk of India’s Jaguar fleet and the majority of the aircraft slated for the DARIN III upgrade package. This is where Elta’s scalable design could really shine.

We also don’t know what, if any, of the DARIN upgrades will apply to the dozens of second-hand Jaguars India is looking to acquire from France. The French Air Force operated A and E variants that have a similar nose profile to the IM and could more readily accept the AESA installation. All government officials would say is that “India is actively considering acquiring them after proper refurbishment,” according to Defense News. It is also very possible the 30 or so French jets that are supposedly being eyed could end up being used as spares for India’s upgraded Jaguar fleet.

Even if it feasible, though, such a significant modification would slow down the DARIN III project even more and increase its overall cost. The Indian Air Force, which originally hoped to have the upgraded Jaguars start to enter service by December 2012, can little afford to drag the project out longer than it has already.

Unfortunately, the DARIN III saga, as well as a separate and equally sluggish push to replace the Jaguars’ engines, seems reflective of the Indian Air Force’s modernization efforts. In January 2017, the country’s Minister of Defense, Manohar Parrikar, announced plans to sign a deal to license produce up to 200 single-engine fighter jets by 2021 at an estimated cost of approximately $45 million apiece.

The two major contenders for this tender are Lockheed Martin and its F-16 Block 70 and Saab and its Gripen E. In June 2017, Lockheed Martin separately announced plans to shift a significant portion of its F-16 production line to India, which many observers saw as giving the company an advantage in the domestic fighter competition. Saab has also offered a significant amount of technology transfer to go along with any purchase of Gripen aircraft.

But when and even if the Indian Air Force will ultimately receive any new fighter jets is unclear. The reason the country is looking for 200 new aircraft in the first place is because it scaled back purchases of the Dassault Rafale multi-role combat aircraft, which had won an earlier competition in 2012 worth approximately $20 billion, amid accusations of graft. The original plan was to purchase 136 of the French-made fighter jets, but now the Indian Air Force is only slated to get 36.

Another factor is the poor performance so far of HAL’s domestically-designed Tejas fighter jet, which first flew in 2001. The Indian Air Force expects to receive the first Tejas Mk 1A aircraft, which will also feature the ELM-2052 AESA radar among other features, by 2020 at the earliest.

However, in January 2017, the Indian Navy rejected the navalized Tejas variant, complaining that it is too heavy to operate effectively from the country’s sole aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya, as well as the Vikrant-class replacements now under construction. Both Vikramaditya and the Vikrant-class use ski jumps to launch aircraft and the Tejas can’t meet the “thrust-to-weight requirement to take off with a full fuel and arms load,” Indian Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said, according to The Times of India.

There’s also a reasonable question of where the money for all of these procurements will come from. In addition to upgrading a significant portion of the Jaguar fleet, the Indian Air Force has been modernizing its Dassault Mirage 2000 at a cost of $43 million per aircraft and needs to replace hundreds of MiG-21s and MiG-27s that are simply becoming too old to fly safely. As of November 2016, the Indian Air Force had only committed to buy approximately 120 Tejas, worth approximately $12 billion, to replace more than 300 of the Soviet-era MiGs.

At the same time, India’s top regional competitor, China, is working on multiple fifth generation stealthy fighter designs, advanced unmanned combat air vehicles, and other new aircraft, to say nothing of its networked air defenses. India has been less than pleased with the result of its cooperation with Russia on the fifth generation PAK-FA fighter jet. This increasing gap between the two countries’ air arms is more pounced given that they have been engaged in a protracted standoff over a disputed border in the mountainous Sikkim region since June 2017, which observers worry could lead to a more significant conflict.

India’s Air Force also has to contend with its Pakistani counterpart, which, though far smaller and less advanced than China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force, has been looking to improve its own capabilities in recent years. Most notably, Pakistan and China had been working together on updating the JF-17 Thunder light multi-role combat aircraft, which first entered Pakistani service in 2008. These upgrades could include an AESA radar and the Block 3 aircraft may be ready for as early as 2019. There are also reports that Pakistan is interested in buying the Chinese J-31 stealth fighter.

Given these regional developments, the DARIN III upgrades, including the AESA radar, are essential for keeping the Jaguars combat capable, even if only as a second-tier multi-role aircraft. Additional upgrades, including improved, Israeli-made podded self-defense jammers could also add more capability to the aircraft.

Regardless, given the difficulties India faces in modernizing its Air Force, it’s likely that it will continue to operate the Jaguars, with or without the full suite of upgrades, for the foreseeable future.


August 14, 2017

Lockheed denies report on F-16 tech transfer to India

A recent report claiming the US denied critical F-16 technology to the government of India is erroneous, the US Air Force and F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin say.
New Delhi is searching for a new single-engine fighter to recapitalise the Indian air force’s aging fighter fleet. The report from Defenseworld.net quoted the Indian Minister of State for Defence saying the US has not agreed to transfer F-16 technology and production to India. But a USAF and Lockheed spokesman confirmed to FlightGlobal that the issue of technology transfer is still being coordinated.
Although Lockheed announced plans to partner with Tata Advanced Systems at the Paris air show, the company has been careful to characterise this alliance as conditional. Lockheed committed to manufacturing Block 70 Falcons in India only if the company wins the contract.

“Any media reports claiming the US has denied or approved the transfer of F-16 technology to India are simply not true,” Lockheed says. “The government of India is still determining its single-engine fighter requirements and government-to-government discussions between India and the USs are ongoing. No decisions have been made yet regarding technology transfer.”
A US State Department spokeswoman referred questions to Lockheed.
“As a matter of policy, we do not discuss potential or pending arms sales before they are notified to Congress,” the spokeswoman says.
Rumors that the US might have denied the transfer of F-16 technology to India appeared plausible, given the programme’s record of technology transfers to foreign buyers.In 2015, the US denied Korea’s request for AESA radar, infrared search and track, electro-optical target tracking devices, and jammer technology transfers for its future KFX fighter. In the meantime, Korea is pushing for lower technologies for the jet, while continuing to domestic development of AESA.


August 10, 2017

Government to spend billions on upgrade of tanks, infantry combat vehicles

The defence ministry has approved projects worth thousands of crores to sharpen the fighting capability of its tanks and infantry combat vehicles, amid the national auditor revealing gaping holes in the military’s battle readiness.
The projects approved include ammunition for more than 1,500 Russian-origin BMP-2/2K infantry combat vehicles, top-end missiles for 3,000 T-90/T-72 tanks and lakhs of rounds for L-70 air defence guns, officials said. The ministry’s department of defence production (DDP) gave the green light to the programmes on July 10.
Documents with HT show that the army requires nine lakh rounds of advanced 30 mm ammunition for the BMPs that can be fired from the existing gun without any design modifications. Each round could cost up to Rs 15,000, according to the army’s estimates. 
The DDP approved the purchase of 3,000 third-generation missiles for the army’s tank fleet, with a maximum effective range of 8 km and shelf life of five years under field conditions.
The army’s operational and technical parameters state the new missile should have a “hit probability greater than 90% on a standard NATO tank.” The army’s proposal says, “As the design of the existing INVAR missile has been optimized both in terms of range and depth of penetration, it is imperative to upgrade to next generation missiles with enhanced capability.”
The army’s T-90 fleet will be equipped with ‘armoured fighting vehicle protection and counter measure system’ at a cost of around Rs 2,500 crore. These enhanced protection measures deflect or destroy threats from guided missiles, rocket propelled grenades and rockets. Army officials said the systems would significantly enhance the survivability of tank crews in combat.
The approvals have been granted under the ‘Make’ category of acquisition in the Defence Procurement Procedure 2016 that lays down that only Indian vendors are eligible for the projects.
The T-90 fleet will be equipped with 1,200-1,500 HP modular engines “to cater for high battle field agility.” The army has a requirement for 2,011 such engines with each likely to cost Rs 5 crore.
Another significant project cleared relates to buying 3.3 lakh rounds of ammunition for the L-70 air defence gun systems over the next 12 years. The army’s proposal said, “With increase in air threat envelope and multiplicity of threat platforms, there’s a requirement to enhance the lethality and accuracy of the present ammunition of L-70 gun.”
The defence ministry has sought Rs 20,000 crore from the government to accelerate the military’s modernisation. Also, in July, the Centre bestowed sweeping financial powers on the army to meet critical deficiencies in ammunition, spares and different types of armament following a security review conducted after last year’s Uri terror strike.


India Freezes Purchase of Additional AH-64E Apache From US

Indian Army was to receive its first tranche of eleven AH-64E Apache helicopters under the options clause of an earlier deal; but government says it has no immediate plans to place the order.

Hard-pressed by operational requirements at the country's restive north-east region, the Indian Army, in its requisition, had demanded that they be provided with eleven US made helicopters. However, in a clear indication of Indian government's unwillingness to purchase additional AH-64E Apache helicopters from the United States, the Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) has called off its meeting that was to discuss the Indian Army's requisition. The DAC is India's apex decision making body for defense purchases.
In September 2015, The Narendra Modi led government had cleared a deal with Boeing for the purchase of 22 AH-64E Apache helicopters. Ever since, the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force have been in a tug of war for acquiring the aircraft.
The earlier regime, led by Dr Manmohan Singh, had said that any future procurement of attack helicopters would be for the Indian Army. However, the Indian Air Force laid claim on all 22 helicopters and even refused to heed to the Indian Army's proposal to share half of the fleet.
 The Indian Army then moved a separate proposal seeking 39 attack helicopters. According to the proposal, the Indian Army was to receive its first tranche of eleven helicopters under the options clause of the 2015 deal. But India's Minister of State for Defense, Subhash Bhamre informed the Parliament earlier this week that the government has no plans to expand the 2015 deal with Boeing. "No follow-up order has so far been placed with any foreign ordnance company for procurement of attack helicopters," he said.

Presently, the Indian Army operates the homemade Dhruv-WSI (weapon system integrated) attack helicopters. It has already placed an order of over 100 such helicopters from state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. 50% of the components of the twin engine, multi-role helicopter is imported. They are considered highly efficient for close air support and high altitude operations. Dhruv Helicopter is equipped with 20 millimeter turret gun and can carry 70 millimeter rockets, the Mistral air to air missile, air to ground missile, helmet pointing system and anti-tank missiles.


Indian Navy Floats Global Tender for High-Tech Night Vision Helmets

The Indian Navy has requisitioned for two options - uncooled thermal imaging devices and image intensifier tube with wide field of view.
  Indian Navy has started the process to equip its forces with highly advanced helmet mounted night vision devices. Such devices will help naval personnel in search & seizure procedures as well as security operations. The tender states that the initial order will be for about 1000 such devices and the quantity may be expanded in future.India's ministry of defense has sought response in detail from vendors interested in transferring the technology to Indian manufacturers. The global tender is expected to be issued in second quarter of 2018. The devices would be made available to the naval personnel from 2019.
"Amongst the vendors cleared by Field Evaluation Trials, a Contract Negotiation Committee (CNC) would decide the lowest cost bidder and conclude the appropriate contract," reads the request for information issued by the India's Ministry of Defense.
 Meanwhile, as per a requisition made by the Indian Army in December last year, India is also looking to purchase long range thermal imaging night vision with fusion technology for the Indian Army's T-90 tank, light machine guns, and rocket launchers. The Indian Army has asked for 15000 night sight for rocket launchers, 5000 night sight device for medium machine guns and more than 125000 for other small handheld arms. It is estimated that army will have to spend approximately $3.2 billion for such purchase.


India all set to deploy Apache choppers at borders to boost firepower

In a bid to boost its firepower at the borders, India is planning to deploy its deadly American Apache attack helicopters at the sensitive Pathankot airbase in Punjab as well as Jorhat in Assam to fortify the northeastern sector. The defence ministry cleared a $2.2 billion contract with the US in 2015 for 22 Apache attack helicopters that will strengthen the Indian Air Force's capabilities on the frontiers with Pakistan and China.

"At present, the Air Force is planning to deploy the two squadrons of the Apache helicopters in Pathankot in Punjab and Jorhat in Assam to meet the security requirements of the western and the eastern theatre," sources in the defence ministry told Mail Today. The Pathankot airbase already has a component of the Russian-origin Mi-35 attack helicopters, which are used for supporting the advance of the Army in war against the enemy infantry and tank regiments while Jorhat would be getting an attack helicopter unit for the first time.

The infrastructure for hosting the helicopters in the two bases would also be completed as per the delivery schedule along with the other requirements at these bases. Indian pilots and air crew are also getting trained on the new choppers so that they can operate the helicopters when they arrive in India. The preparation of the Indian crew is also part of the deal that the two sides signed.

The Air Force has been flying the attack helicopters for a long time in support of Army's operations but the land force now wants to control the aerial assets also as it feels that its pilots would be better suited to support operations on the ground. In this regard, the Army is also moving a case for acquiring 11 Apache choppers as part of the repeat order for the ones the IAF is getting. Apache will be the first pure attack helicopter in the Indian forces.

The IAF already operates two squadrons of the Russian origin Mi-25 and Mi-35 attack helicopters, which are deployed close to the front lines on the Pakistan border. But these choppers are on the verge of retirement and were designed only to carry troops into heavily defended territories. Equipped with laser and infrared systems for all weather, day-night operability, the Apache fires the Hellfire air-to-air missiles apart from its arsenal of 70-mm rockets and automatic cannon.

The twin-engine Apache, operated by two pilots, is capable of detecting 256 moving targets with its doughnut-shaped Longbow radar and engaging them simultaneously. The choppers are scheduled to be delivered in the next couple of years to the Air Force along with the Chinook-64D heavy lift helicopters, which would be used to airlift machinery and heavy equipment in support of troops deployed in high mountainous regions such as Ladakh and the Northeast.

India had signed the deals for the Apache and Chinook helicopters simultaneously after a tendering process of almost eight years involving Russian and American firms. The Chinook choppers are planned to be based at the Chandigarh airbase, which is also home to the world's biggest choppers - the Russian Mi-26, which is used rarely these days for special airlift missions only. The public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is also working on developing the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter in the attack chopper category but it is in a lighter class than the Apaches.

The LCH would be built in large numbers by HAL and would be deployed by the Army and the IAF in both the western and northeastern sectors. The HAL has also developed a weaponised version of the Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv choppers called Rudra, which are getting deployed without much teeth in bases such as Likabali in the Northeast and Bhatinda near Pakistan.


China ‘gifted’ 50 kilogram of Uranium to help Pakistan make nuclear bombs against India

China’s sinister designs against India has been talked about for decades since 1962. As the Communist country, once again tries to push India into a war in Sikkim sector, we take a look at how Beijing helped Pakistan’s nuclear programme, despite being one of the permanent members of the United Nations and publicly committed to non-proliferation. On November 13, 2009, the Washington Post published shocking accounts written by Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme.

According to the Post, Khan wrote that China provided 50 kilogram of bomb-grade uranium, which was enough for two atom bombs, to Pakistan in mid-1982. Khan narrated the entire story of sinister China-Pakistan nuclear cooperation, which started right after India tested its first nuclear bomb in 1974.

The terms of nuclear agreement between the two countries were set in mid-1976. India’s test in 1974 had “provoked” Khan, who was then working as a metallurgist at a Dutch centrifuge manufacturer, to offer his services to then Pakistan premier Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. After arriving in Pakistan, Khan worked out the details along with two officials – including former secretary Agha Shahi – before visiting Beijing to attend Mao’s funeral in 1976.

In China, Khan held talks with three top Chinese nuclear weapons officials and shared his knowledge about European-designed centrifuges, that could “aid China’s lagging uranium-enrichment program.” According to Khan, Pakistani officials helped China set up a centrifuge plant at Hanzhong in central China. For this Pakistan had sent “135 C-130 plane loads of machines, inverters, valves, flow meters, pressure gauges.” The Pakistan team stayed in Hanzhong for three weeks to complete their task. In return for the help, China sent to Pakistan “15 ton of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a feedstock for Pakistan’s centrifuges that Khan’s colleagues were having difficulty producing on their own.”

According to Khan, the uranium hexafluoride gas helped Pakistan to start producing bomb-grade Uranium in 1982. Chinese scientists also helped Islamabad in solving “other nuclear weapons challenges”. However, as Pakistanis’ competence grew, Islamabad started to fear of a preemptive strike on its key nuclear sites by India or Israel.

In 1982, the then Pakistani military ruler Mohammad Zia ul-Haq talked to Khan about the fears of possible Indian or Israeli strike. Haq sent Khan and a Pakistani military general to Beijing “with a request in mid-1982 to borrow enough bomb-grade uranium for a few weapons.” The then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping okayed Pakistan’s request.

“After winning Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping’s approval, Khan, the general and two others flew aboard a Pakistani C-130 to Urumqi. Khan says they enjoyed barbecued lamb while waiting for the Chinese military to pack the small uranium bricks into lead-lined boxes, 10 single-kilogram ingots to a box, for the flight to Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital,” the Washington Post reported in 2009.

Interestingly, Pakistan kept the Chinese material in storage until 1985. By that time, they had developed some nuclear weapons on their own. In the same year, Khan got Zia’s approval to ask if the Chinese wanted their material back. However, the Chinese responded to Pakistan that the nuclear material be considered “as a gift… in gratitude for Pakistani help”.

Throughout the period, the US was aware of the Chinese-Pakistani collaboration and also of the fact that Beijing and Islamabad were “worried about India”, according to the post.

Khan is believed to have passed of nuclear weapons know how to many states including Iran and Libya.

China has officially denied its nuclear weapon collaboration with Pakistan.


India’s Tejas programme suffers more delays

The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has revealed further delays in the country’s programme to produce the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The MoD said in a statement on 4 August that state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has delivered just four aircraft to the IAF out of 40 ordered in 2005. All these aircraft were previously scheduled to be delivered to the IAF by 2017–18.
The four aircraft so far delivered are from a batch of 20 designated for initial operational clearance (IOC), while the remaining 20 aircraft were designated for final operational clearance (FOC).
The MoD said that 12 remaining aircraft under the IOC batch are at the production stage and four more aircraft, which will be used as trainers, will be produced following necessary approvals by the MoD’s Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA).
It added that production of the 20 FOC aircraft will also depend on clearance by the ADA, which has led the Tejas development programme for the past three decades.
The MoD said that HAL has undertaken a raft of initiatives to increase the production rate of the Tejas LCA.
These include, it said, HAL obtaining authorisation in March 2017 from the government to ramp-up production capacity from eight to 16 aircraft per year, and the establishment of a second manufacturing line to support “structural and equipping activities”.
HAL has also increased the number of jigs involved in manufacturing the aircraft’s front fuselage, centre fuselage, rear fuselage and wings, and reduced the manufacturing cycle time by improving supply chain management and boosting workforce.


August 9, 2017

Army To Get Over 1 Lakh Lightweight Helmets: Government

The government today said it is procuring 1.58 lakh lightweight and safer ballistic helmets for the Indian Army. "A contract for procurement of 1,58,279 ballistic helmets through capital routes has been concluded in December 2016," Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply to a question.

The helmets are being manufactured by Kanpur-based company MKU limited, army sources said, adding they will be lightweight and have better safety features. "There is no shortage of quality protective material for soldiers of the Indian Army fighting terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir," Mr Bhamre said.

To a separate query on whether the interim verdict of the International Court of Justice on Indian national Kulbhushan Jadhav has brought out glaring deficiencies in the military legal system of Pakistan, Mr Bhamre did not comment.

On whether there was a need for major changes in the military justice system in India, Mr Bhamre said the existing laws are up-to-date and in sync with human rights, humanitarian laws and criminal and service jurisprudence.

To another question, Mr Bhamre said a committee headed by Lt. Gen. DB Shekatkar (retd.) has recommended closure of the Army Education Corps. "The recommendations of the committee are under consideration of the government," he said.


August 8, 2017

Thoughts on the Lockheed-Tata agreement to produce F-16s in India

The recent blooming of closeness between US and India can led to another deal between both countries; a billion dollar deal with India’s known TATA Group to relocate and produce F-16s in India. TATA Advanced Systems has been producing component parts for the American defence contractor’s C-130J military transport aircraft. It is being touted as a ‘win-win’ situation for countries, promising jobs and reaffirming confidence in each other.

This deal needs to be looked at a little more closely.

Yes India needs to replace her Russian provided MIGs that are way too old and reportedly passing the expiry date. The MIG jets are nicked as the ‘Flying Coffin’. In 2012, the Defence Minister’s statement in Indian Parliament that more than half of the 872 MIG Jets purchased from Russia are lost in accidents costing more than 200 lives. (Andrew North for BBC)

F-16 Block 70 aircraft in future, all going well between both the governments will only be produced in India. Though presently, F16s dominate the fighter aircrafts market globally, will the situation remain unchanged minimum a decade down the road needed to get production off ground?

The US Department on the other hand, is buying another lot of F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin. The US government reportedly is expected to spend approximately $400bn in coming years on the production of 2,443 of these sleek beauties. This anomaly is interesting.

Should Lockheed-TATA manage to get the contract to set up the production facilities in India, itself a time-taking process; including the red-tape involved, the shortlisting of manufacturers and then the laborious task of setting up the manufacturing units. India is looking to a period of a decade give and take, before the first aircraft can roll off the production line.

With US already moving towards a smarter aircraft, after a decade, who will Lockheed-TATA be selling the F 16s to? Reportedly at the moment roughly 26 countries are flying 3200 of these aircrafts, will the sale graph will be the same in a decade?Sweden’s Saab has pitched in to produce Gripen fighter in India, though it has not yet entered into a partnership with a local production house in India. ‘Saab AB of Sweden, makers of Gripen fighter jets, is in talks with the Gautam Adani-led Adani Group for a manufacturing partnership.’ (Livemint, Tarun Shukla, Feb 16 2017)

There is a political angle to the production deal. Whereas, bilateral trade between India and Sweden is healthy with an estimated 150 Swedish companies already established in India with more coming in, providing jobs to roughly 7,50,000 Indians, India’s political leaning towards US in the past few years, and in particular with Trump becoming President is a part of new global alliances.

India desperately wants to be seen as the regional power Vis a Vis China which is not happening anytime soon. In this effort India may very well axe herself in her foot by providing a lifeline to Lockheed Martin in producing F16s that becomes a white elephant as soon as the first aircraft rolls off the production line.

For US it’s a positive all the way. She binds India closer thereby creating a dent in an important sector where Russia had the gains with India. It gets to create a challenge to China in her very backyard thereby taking a step in her efforts to delay China’s rise as a regional power and in line with Trump’s policy of “America First’ creates thousands of jobs for Americans.

On the other hand, India will be pushing Russia closer to Pakistan a likely result in light of upcoming CPEC and the fact that there is a drift between Pakistan and US, a chasm that seems to be widening with time. In a paradigm shift, the centre of focus is shifting to Asia and Russia is very much cognizant of the fact. The joint military excise between both countries in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa a few months ago is one indicator.

“Apart from military cooperation, Pakistan and Russia are also expanding bilateral cooperation on energy and infrastructure projects. Pakistan has taken the first step by offering Russia the use of Gawadar port which would help Russia to connect it to the rest of the world. It is expected that Moscow will use this port for exports and imports. Russia has also shown interest in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Furthermore, Russia has also joined hands with Pakistan to counter terrorism. Russian Ambassador to Pakistan Alexy Y. Dedov has said that Russia will assist Pakistan in fighting terrorism by supplying military equipment.” (Re-shift in Russian Policy towards Pakistan: Balancing the Unbalanced: Institute of Strategic Studies April 5, 2017)
India needs to take a hard look into the deal. In a world of complex global alliances, many a pitfall awaits those who jump before they can learn to walk!