March 23, 2017

Lockheed Martin to shift F-16 production line to South Carolina

The end of an era is coming as production of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon is being shifted from west Fort Worth to South Carolina.

Lockheed will begin moving the production line to its facility in Greenville, S.C., at the end of the year after delivering the last of the iconic jets being built for Iraq in September, said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth.

The F-16 has been a mainstay of Lockheed’s mile-long production line, but the Fort Worth plant needs the room as it ramps up production of the F-35 Lightning II, he said. Currently, 8,800 employees work on the F-35 and about 200 work on the F-16. It is expected that the F-16 employees will be allowed to transition to work on the F-35.

“As part of our effort to make room for the F-35 production here in Fort Worth, the F-16 production line must be relocated,” Ross said.

Over the life of the program, Lockheed has delivered more than 4,500 F-16s, including 3,600 built in Fort Worth. Since the company hasn’t booked any orders for new F-16s beyond the planes for Iraq, it would take about two years to start it back up in South Carolina once a new order is received, Ross said.

Moving production to South Carolina makes sense for several reasons, company officials said.

First and foremost, Lockheed Martin is ramping up activity on the F-35 in Fort Worth and expects to hire an additional 1,800 employees through 2020 as work on the stealth fighter hits full production. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and expects to build up to 160 a year by 2019.

“The space we use for the F-16 will be consumed by the F-35,” Ross said.

Secondly, the Greenville plant is where the new T-50A trainer will be built if it wins a competition to build the aircraft for the Air Force. The T-50A is considered an “offshoot” of the F-16 design, so the economics of having the two lines together makes sense, Ross said.

Lockheed continues to pitch building the F-16 in India. India wants to modernize its aging military fleet of about 650 planes and the Indian Ministry of Defence has set up a competition to build a new single-engine fighter in that country as part of a “Make in India” initiative.

But the Trump administration has made it clear it will scrutinize any deal that may shift jobs overseas and has said it plans to take a “fresh look” at the India deal. Lockheed argues that the Indian contract, while moving production overseas, would still be a boost to the domestic economy.

Lockheed still thinks the F-16 is the right aircraft for India and is providing information to the federal government about that deal, Ross said.

Lockheed is also seeking to make additional F-16 sales to U.S. allies.

“We have a lot of pursuits ongoing but no new orders yet,” Ross said.


Russian design bureau ready to integrate BrahMos missiles into frigates for Indian Navy

The St. Petersburg-based Severnoye Design Bureau is ready to integrate the BrahMos strike missile system into the armament set of Project 11356M frigates for the Indian Navy after they are ordered by India, Severnoye Deputy CEO and Chief Designer for Special Hardware Vyacheslav Senchurov told TASS on Wednesday.

"No problems will emerge with the integration of the BrahMos strike missile complex into the frigate. We have already integrated this system earlier into the other three Project 11356 frigates acquired by the Indian Navy," Senchurov said at the LIMA-2017 international maritime and aerospace show in Malaysia.

The Severnoye Design Bureau is the developer of Project 11356 warships for the Russian and Indian Navies while Project 11356M frigates are the follow-up of this series.

The first three out of six Project 11356 frigates operational in the Indian Navy are armed with the Russian-made Club-N strike system (the export version of the Kalibr cruise missile complex) while the other three vessels are outfitted with the Russian-Indian BrahMos multipurpose missile system that is capable of hitting both surface and ground-based targets.

Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy at Russia’s state hi-tech corporation Rostec Viktor Kladov said earlier that the planned contract for the delivery of Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy would be implemented under the "two plus two" formula:" two frigates were planned to be built in Russia and delivered to India and the other two would be constructed by the Indian ship-building industry at one of the national shipyards.


Russia to Sign Deal With India on Delivery of 48 Mi-17V-5 Helicopters in 2017

Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Russia's Rostec State Corporation Victor Kladov says Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 on deliveries to India of 48 Mi-17B-5 helicopters.
 Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 on deliveries to India of 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters, Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy Department of Russia's Rostec State Corporation Victor Kladov said Wednesday.
"I am sure that this year the deal on delivery of 48 Mi-17V-5 helicopters to India will be signed," Kladov told journalist at Langkawi exhibition.
Russia is also engaged in dialogue with countries of the Middle East and North Africa on delivery of Su-35 fighters, Kladov said.
"Countries from North Africa and the Middle East region can be the next to acquire Su-35 fighters, the negotiations with them are being conducted," Kladov told journalists, without specifying the countries.
Kladov also said that Russia will sign an agreement in 2017 for delivery and manufacturing in India of four project 11356 frigates.
"I am sure that this year the deal on the manufacturing of two frigates under the license in India and the delivery from Russia of two frigates of this project will be signed," Kladov told journalists.


Plan To Build Choppers For Indian Forces Remains Grounded As Russia Drags Its Feet

The first major hurdle to "Make in India" in defence manufacturing appears to be coming from an old friend, that is, Russia.

In October 2016, India and Russia agreed to jointly manufacture Kamov-226T multi-utility helicopters in India for the three services. The agreement was presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President of the Russian Federation Valdimir Putin. It was the first major defence venture under the Modi government's "Make in India" programme. But there has been no progress since.

The Kamov-226T is a twin-engine helicopter known for ruggedness and performance. Faced with the need to replace the ageing Cheetah and Chetak helicopters, India planned to manufacture as many as 200 helicopters.

Top defence ministry sources told Huffington Post, India, that the two countries haven't yet decided on the exact price of the helicopters. The price being quoted by Russia is much beyond New Delhi's expectation.

More importantly, Russia isn't very comfortable sharing technology with the Indian private sector. The agreement specified that Hindustan Aeronautical Limited (HAL)— the Indian defence public sector unit — would get Indian private sector entities as partners to manufacture various components for the Kamov-226T helicopter. Not happy with this involvement of the India private sector, Moscow has held back "critical clearances".

"Much of the Russian defence manufacturing is state owned. While India is trying to boost the nascent private defence manufacturing industry by making HAL the main integrator, Russian defence industry isn't very sure about involving sharing technology with the private sector," top defence ministry sources said.

Under this joint defence manufacturing venture, signed on the side-lines of the BRICS summit in Goa last year, India and Russia agreed for complete transfer of technology and joint production of Kamov-226T helicopters in India.
 The decision to make helicopters in India follows the Inter-Government Agreement on "Cooperation in the field of Helicopter Engineering" singed between the two countries during Prime Minister Modi's visit to Russia in December 2015. The two sides had agreed to set up a joint venture with the Russian government firm Rostec Corporation holding 49.5% stake and HAL holding 50.5% stake.

India–Russia ties are time-tested, and India considers Russia to be its most trusted strategic partner. However, the ties between the two countries had come under some strain: Kremlin perceived that New Delhi was increasingly depending on the West to source defence equipment.

The Modi government has been trying to re-energise bilateral relations. During the signing of October 2016 agreement, India had assured Russia that defence cooperation and manufacturing would be one the key pillars of Indio–Russia relations. Jointly producing helicopters for the Indian Navy, Indian Air Force and the Army was expected to revitalise ties. Apart from helicopters, India had also decided to source warships among other defence platforms from Russia.

The three services and the Coast Guard put together need about 400 helicopters. While HAL is developing the light-utility helicopters, India decided to source 200 helicopters from Russia to replace the aging fleet of helicopters.


March 22, 2017

First contract for supplies of Brahmos missiles can be signed before end of 2017

The first export contract for the supplies of the BrahMos cruise missiles to a foreign customer can be signed before the end of this year, Alexander Maksichev, a spokesman for the Russian-Indian company Brahmos Aerospace, informed TASS at the 14th International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition LIMA 2017.

"I believe the first export contract for the delivery of the BrahMos missiles can be signed until the end of 2017," he said without specifying the potential customer. Maksichev emphasized that the consent of the Russian and Indian governments is required for exporting these missiles to third countries.

He did not specify though which modification could be exported - sea or land-based. According to Maksichev, it is planned to adapt the BrahMos-ER (extended range) missiles tested in March 2017 for naval applications.


March 21, 2017

Project to develop unmanned variant of Tejas planes in works

In what would break new ground, India has started work on developing an unmanned combat version of the home-grown light combat aircraft (LCA), with a task group being constituted to study how to convert the fighter for a futuristic role.

A team has already started work on the project to convert the LCA into a drone and India's premier aircraft manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is confident that the project can be carried out within a short time frame.

"We have started an internal study on making a unmanned combat aerial vehicle (UCAV) on the Tejas platform. Besides, we are confident on coming up with an unmanned version of Chetak helicopter as well," HAL Chief T Suvarna Raju told ET.

The Air Force has already placed orders for 123 LCA fighters and HAL is targeting a gap of 200 fighters that the Air Force will face in coming years. place a high risk on pilots in case of a ditching in enemy territory. India is also working on a project named AURA to make a futuristic combat drone that would be powered by a modified version of the Kaveri engine.

The drone, however, is several years away as the project is still at the design stage. While unmanned LCA would be no match for a futuristic stealth drone, officials pointed that out converting a flying platform into an autonomous unit could be faster and cheaper short term option.

The US, for example, uses unmanned F-16 fighters for aerial target practice.


March 20, 2017

Mazagon Docks, DCNS keen on making 3 more Scorpene-class subs

Mazagon Docks Ltd along with French shipbuilder DCNS, its technology partner for the Scorpene submarines, has approached the Indian Navy with a repeat order for three Scorpene-class submarines, despite the data leak scandal that had threatened to derail the project last August.

Like the first six Scorpenes, the three new submarines would also be manufactured at the Mumbai site, and would be equipped with a new anaerobic propulsion system (AIP) developed by the DRDO.

Six Scorpene submarines were ordered in 2005, and are being built at the state-owned Mazagaon Docks (MDL) in Mumbai, with technical assistance and transfer of technology as well as equipment from DCNS. INS Kalvari, the first Scorpene class stealth submarine built under Project 75, is currently undergoing extensive sea trials, while INS Khanderi, the second indigenous Scorpene-class submarine was recently launched at MDL.

The Scorpene submarine is one of the newer submarines of the Indian Navy, and has the capability of launching an anti-ship missile from below the surface of water which is expected to give the Navy a boost. Sensitive data related to the Scorpene was leaked in the Australian media last year. A committee was set up to look into the matter.

In early March, the Indian Navy conducted the maiden firing of an SM39 anti-ship missile from INS Kalvari. The missile successfully hit a surface target at extended ranges during the trial firing, and was hailed as a significant milestone, not only for the Kalvari submarine, but also in enhancing the Indian Navy’s sub-surface warfare capability.

Sources in the know pointed out that all six Scorpene being built in India are to be equipped with anti-ship missiles, which can help neutralise surface threats at extended ranges.

Sources pointed out that a repeat order for three new submarines would also help the Indian shipyard maintain the know-how and skills it has acquired through the manufacture of the first two Scorpene.

“At a seminar in November 2016, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikkar had expressed a need for 24 submarines to be built for the Navy, including the six P-75 Scorpene submarines currently on order.

“Given the extensive submarine building programme in other countries, the Minister was keen to strengthen the fleet. It makes emminent sense to continue to build on the first order,” said an official, requesting anonymity, adding that it was also an option under the P-75 programme.

Transfer of technology from DCNS also involves changing “the shells of the Scorpene by making them thicker with steel”, and the Indian counterparts have been educated on the same, as also integrating it with missiles and weapon systems.

Recently, the Indian Navy detailed a timeline for the induction of six Scorpene submarines, with the first two set to be commissioned end-2017.

 the hindubusinessline

Seven months on, India-US logistics pact suffering from bottlenecks

  • The pact will allow both to access to each other’s military bases for refuelling, repair and maintenance of warships and aircraft
  • The pact was inked on August 29, last year
  • One handicap is the absence of a unified command over Army, Navy and IAF in India
The much-ballyhooed logistics pact between India and the US, which will allow reciprocal access to each other's military bases for refuelling, repair and maintenance of warships and aircraft, is yet to enter into force despite being inked seven months ago.

Slow decision-making, bureaucratic bottlenecks and complex accounting procedures, much more from the Indian side than the US one, have held up the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) from becoming operational till now.

Sources, however, say the Indian defence ministry is "now close to finalising the intricate accounting procedures" under which the two militaries will provide each other with logistical support on "equal-value exchange and reimbursable basis".

It was much easier for the US, which has similar pacts with its allies and others as well as unified theatre commands to handle different parts of the globe, to work out the operational details and submit its "points of contact" list to India.

But India, with separate budgets and accounting procedures for the Army, Navy and IAF in the absence of unified commands, has found the going tough since the LEMOA was inked on August 29 last year. "The complex arrangement on how India would pay had to be worked out. But it should now be finalised and approved in a month or so," said a source.

The LEMOA, of course, represents yet another major milestone in the ever-tightening bilateral strategic clinch, which has seen the US bag arms deals worth $15 billion from India as well as the two militaries conduct a flurry of combat exercises over the last decade.
But the Modi government, wary of being accused of compromising India's traditional strategic autonomy, has taken pains to repeatedly stress LEMOA will not entail any basing rights or permanent stationing of US troops on Indian soil.

India is also in no tearing hurry to ink the other two "foundational agreements", in addition to LEMOA, which are being pushed by the US for over 15 years now. These are the Communications Compatibility and Security Arrangement (COMCASA), earlier called the Communication Interoperability and Security Memorandum Agreement (CISMOA), and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA).

"India is keen on further building interoperability between the two forces but it has to follow capacity-building. COMCASA and BECA will take time," said an official. Some military officers, on their part, assert one effective way of balancing the long-term threat from China, which has increasingly become assertive in the entire Asia-Pacific, is to militarily work closer with the US.

But critics contend the "foundational pacts" will only lead to a formal military alliance with the US in the years ahead, while adversely impacting the close strategic partnership with Russia as well as needlessly antagonising China. "A pact like COMCASA also has the potential to compromise our operational security by allowing the US military to snoop on our warships and aircraft," said another officer.

A) US largest arms supplier to India over last 5 years, with deals worth $15 billion since 2007
* Several joint military exercises held every year, from naval Malabar to counter-terror Vajra Prahar & Yudh Abhyas
* Inked Defence Technology & Trade Initiative (2012), 10-year Framework for India-US Defence Relationship (2015), Joint Strategic Vision for Asia-Pacific & Indian Ocean Region (2015), LEMOA (2016) etc

B) Foundational Agreements
1) Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA)
* Logistic support, refuelling & berthing facilities for each other's warships & aircraft on equal-value exchange basis
* Will not involve stationing of US troops on Indian soil. Nor will India extend support if US goes to war with "a friendly country"
* Useful for US forces re-balancing to Asia Pacific. Access to US bases like Djibouti, Diego Garcia, Guam and Subic Bay helpful for India

2) Communications Compatibility & Security Arrangement (COMCASA)
* Technology enabler to help transfer high-tech avionics, encrypted communication & electronic systems to India
* US says COMCASA will boost "interoperability" as well as ensure secrecy of its C4ISR systems
* But US will be able to track & snoop on Indian warships/aircraft equipped with such systems. Could compromise India's tactical operational security

3) Basic Exchange & Cooperation Agreement for Geo-Spatial Cooperation (BECA)
* US says BECA will allow it to share advanced satellite & topographical data for long-range navigation & missile-targeting
* But India has its own satellite imaging capabilities. BECA will involve US digital sensors to be positioned on Indian soil


Pvt firms to produce Tejas body, wings; HAL to play integrator

Three-pronged plan

  • Fuselage (body) and wing production work has been outsourced to three companies and these will come back with deliveries in two years
  • The second part of the "increase-production plan" is to use the existing facility of the hawk trainer jets; a pilot project has already started
  • The third part aims at turning Hindustan Aeronautics Limited into an integrator-a concept adopted by leading foreign manufacturers
In a path-breaking move, part-production of the Light Combat Aircraft, The Tejas, has been outsourced to Indian private companies, with an aim to speed up production to cover up the dwindling number of Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets.

The IAF is operating with 33 squadrons (16-18 planes each) as against the need for 42 squadrons mandated to effectively fight a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.

T Suvarna Raju, Chairman and Managing Director of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), said, “We are getting fuselage (body) made by private companies and the HAL, in future, will just be an integrator. We have outsourced fuselage and the wing production to three companies and these have to come back with deliveries in two years.”

This was part of a three-pronged plan to speed up Tejas production, Raju said.

There are 123 Tejas jets – in two variants — on order and HAL has an installed capacity of producing only eight planes every year. In the past, a private company made the hull (body) of the nuclear submarine INS Arihant.

Raju said, “The increased production rate will be visible from 2018 when we will be able to provide 16 planes per year under a Rs 1,300-crore expansion project (at the HAL facility in Bangalore).”

The HAL CMD said the second part of the “increase-production plan” is to use the existing facility of the hawk trainer jets and a pilot project has already started.

The third part involves outsourcing to private companies, thus turning HAL into an integrator – a concept adopted by leading foreign manufacturers. This will mean the Tejas fleet of 123 jets can be delivered earlier than planned.

The IAF is operating with 33 squadrons (16-18 planes each) as against the need for 42 squadrons mandated to effectively fight a simultaneous two-front war with Pakistan and China.


March 18, 2017

‘True’ BrahMos Unleashed Today, Next 900-km Weapon

The first benefit of India becoming a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) was on display off India’s coast today when the country test-fired a BrahMos missile (photo) at extended range, well beyond the 290-km range it was so far shackled to by virtue of being outside the international treaty. Today, the BrahMos-ER was fired out to a range of 450 km, successfully hitting a target out at sea.
“It was a successful test, where we launched the BrahMos to a range in excess of 400 km. Shortly, existing BrahMos units will be converted to the ER capability, and future units will too,” BrahMos CEO Sudhir Kumar Mishra said an exclusive conversation with Livefist. Mishra’s team effected three changes to the BrahMos in less than a year in preparation for the ER test today: software changes to the fire control system and mission computer, and miniaturisation of some hardware elements in the propulsion system.
As reported earlier here on Livefist, a ‘final’ BrahMos version, sporting a range of over 900 km, will complete modifications and be ready for a first test by the end of 2019. This was make the BrahMos one of the most formidable stand-off weapon systems in the world, especially when seen in the context of its ship-based, air-launched and submarine-launched versions. Livefist can confirm that the range extension will be sported by all variants of the missile system.
According to a statement, the ER launch today from Kalam Island, Odisha, was witnessed by Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Director General Artillery, a Corps Commander and other senior officers from Indian Army. BrahMos Project Director VSN Murthy, and Programme Director Dashrath Ram along with other senior officers from DRDO and BrahMos were also present during the launch.


March 17, 2017

Oppn voices concern over shortage of defence equipment

Opposition today expressed concern over shortage of equipment, falling expenditure for defence modernisation and huge dependence on import by armed forces.
Participating in a debate on Demand for Grants for Defence in the Lok Sabha, Sugata Bose (Trinamool Congress) said it was unfortunate that a large proportion of the defence budget remains unutilised.
About Rs 13,000 crore was under capital expenditure was returned back in 2015-16, he added.
Lamenting the fact that Indian armed forces are heavily dependent on imports, Bose said, the Government did not give any incentive for defence related manufacturing.
Taking an apparent dig at Manohar Parrikar being shifted from Defence Ministry to Goa as Chief Minister, the Trinamool member quipped that this Government is having a great difficulty in giving a “full-time Raksha Mantri.”
“Someone found Goan delicacy more worthwhile than providing nutritious food to our jawans,” he added in a swipe at Parrikar.
Pinaki Misra (BJD) said, “This House has been bipartisan in the matter of defence but this will not prevent us from voicing our concerns.”


Eye on China, India to raise second division for mountain corps

The 15,000-strong division is expected be fully operational in two-three years, said sources, adding that the organisational structure and manpower were in place, and equipment and stores would follow.
WITH AN eye on the massive restructuring of the Chinese military, the Indian army is moving to raise a second infantry division for its mountain strike corps on the northern border, sources told The Indian Express.
The raising of the new, 72 Infantry Division will start at Pathankot within a few months, they said. “Preliminary action to set the ball rolling for the second division has already started. The army was told to complete the raising of the mountain strike corps by financial year 2017-18. It will be completed on schedule. Complete operationalisation will take some more time,” said a senior army official.
The 15,000-strong division is expected be fully operational in two-three years, said sources, adding that the organisational structure and manpower were in place, and equipment and stores would follow.
The other infantry division for the mountain strike corps — 59 Infantry Division — has been raised and will be fully operational this year.
The mountain strike corps, designated as 17 Corps, is meant for the northern border and is headquartered at Panagarh in Bengal. It was approved by the government in 2013 with a proposed strength of 80,000 soldiers at a cost of Rs 64,000 crore to be spent over a seven-year period. However, sources said, there has been a squeeze on release of funds since, raising questions about shortfall in ammunition and equipment for units already raised.
“The shortfall was mainly in ammunition, which has been made up by and large by invoking emergency financial provisions. As far as the artillery, air defence and aviation assets are concerned, we will get them as part of the modernisation plans,” said the official.
Sources said the army is “deeply concerned” about the recent changes in the command and control structure of China’s People Liberation Army, and is exploring ways to counter that threat. But military officials insisted that 17 Corps was not a “China Strike Corps”.
“We are moving fast from a threat-based to a capability-based army. The mountain strike corps is a part of that change and can be used in any mountainous region, which means all the northern borders. It would augment our posture along the borders, stretching from Arunachal Pradesh in the east to Ladakh in the northwest,” said the official.


India to fit six new C-130J s with terrain warning system

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is to equip six new Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules transport aircraft equipped with the Terrain Awareness Warning System (TAWS), it was disclosed on 15 March.

A solicitation posted by the US Air Force (USAF) on the US Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) calls for the delivery of six C-130Js with the terrain elevation data for the TAWS. This TAWS subscription will run for 40 months starting 31 May 2017 through 31 August 2020, and will likely be renewed after.

As noted in the solicitation, the aircraft will be fielded by 87 Squadron based at Air Force Station (AFS) Arjan Singh (formerly Panagarh airbase) in the Burdwan district of West Bengal. 87 Squadron is not currently operational, and would be stood-up to receive these aircraft.

Responses to the solicitation should be submitted no later than 4:00PM EST 30 March.

The IAF currently fields four C-130Js, having ordered six in 2008. One aircraft was lost in an accident in March 2014 (a replacement was announced, but not approved), and in February of this year a second was severely damaged while taxiing at Thoise airfield in Ladakh. The current C-130J fleet is operated by 77 Squadron based at AFS Hindon, near the capital New Dehli.

These latest six aircraft that are being solicited were contracted in December 2013 for USD1.1 billion. As with the current fleet, these aircraft will be fitted with defensive aids, Indian-specific communication systems, and chin-mounted electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) sensor turrets.


Full Tech Transfer Could Derail Indo-Russian Fifth-Gen Fighter Program

The Indo-Russian fifth-generation fighter aircraft under joint development and production by the two countries has taken a hit, with Russia showing reluctance to fully transfer the aircraft technology, particularly stealth capabilities, despite repeated reminders, according to a top Indian Air Force official.

After the preliminary agreement on the particulars of the fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) program in 2010, and with both sides having paid $295 million each, the final agreement that enables India to release more than $4 billion, is pending.

The Air Force has worked out its requirements for the FGFA, but the crucial "work sharing and technology sharing draft has yet to be finalized," the IAF official said.

Another retiree from the Air Force agreed. "Full technology transfer is not possible since the aviation industrial base in India is not at par with that in Russia," said Vijainder K Thakur, a defense analyst and former squadron leader.

An Indian Ministry of Defence official said the FGFA would be a joint project and that all technologies should be worked on together. The official would not provide further information.

Konstantin Makienko, the deputy director at the Moscow-based Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, said: "The joint project means that the both sides develop the technologies together and become equal owners of them. Therefore it is not about the technology transfer but a joint use of them."

The Air Force is insisting that an agreement for joint development of the FGFA be reached at the earliest, lest the production of the aircraft be delayed. Any delay "would have serious cascading effect on production of the aircraft for India," Singh said.

For the most part, officials and analysts share a common view that a delay the final FGFA agreement is unlikely to shelve the entire program.

"It's unlikely that an in-principle agreement between Russian and Indian heads of government would be shelved. If India is unhappy with the extent of technology transfer, it would likely resort to a straightforward, albeit limited, buy, as happened in the case of the Rafale deal [with France]. Doors would be kept open for enhancing the scope of the deal at a later date," Thakur said.

The Air Force official pointed out that India has worked out operational needs for the FGFA, which the service says could differ from those of the Russians in some aspects. Russia has already moved ahead with its own research and development of the FGFA.

Russia is doing very well with its version of the FGFA, which is called the T-50. The first flight of the T-50 took place in 2010​.

In addition, Russia said it will fly the T-50 with the Product 30 engine, giving it Mach 1.5 super cruise, by 2020.

The Indian Air Force wants technology transfer for the FGFA from Russia because it is facing difficulties in the Russian Sukhoi Su-30MKI aircraft due to no availability of spares and technology transfer. India has contracted 272 Su-30MKI aircraft and is license producing the same at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited facilities​.


March 16, 2017

Saab shifts Gripen M focus from Brazil to India

Saab is to continue development of the maritime variant of its Gripen E combat aircraft, with attention now being focused on a sale to India following Brazil's recent decision to axe its Sao Paulo aircraft carrier.
Speaking on 15 March during the company's annual Gripen seminar in Stockholm, Jerker Ahlqvist, head of the Gripen business unit, said that Saab will respond to an Indian Navy request for information (RFI) with the Gripen M (Maritime) that is it has been developing with UK and Brazilian engineers.
"There is an RFI from India for a carrier aircraft, and we are responding with the Gripen [M]. We see potential for the Gripen [M] and hopefully it will become a full development programme," Ahlqvist said.
The Gripen M (also known as the Sea Gripen) is still in its concept stage and is not yet a full development programme. "We are still in the phase of concept studies at the moment, and we are evaluating the market needs. We have used UK engineers with Harrier experience in the past, and now we have Brazilian engineers working on the project," Ahlqvist added.
First revealed by Saab in 2010, the Gripen M concept features a number of navalised enhancements to the baseline Gripen E fighter to make it suitable for carrier operations. These include a strengthened undercarriage, bigger brakes, and a beefed-up tail hook. The standard Gripen already has a large number of the attributes for carrier operations, such as a high precision landing capability, a high pitch and roll rate authority and precision glide slope control, a reinforced airframe, and enhanced anti-corrosion protection. Its undercarriage and airframe is already capable of a sink rate of 15 ft/s, although this would need to be increased to about 25 ft/s for carrier operations. "The Gripen is designed for narrow roads, and so would be perfect for carrier operations," Ahlqvist said.


'China-Pakistan Economic Corridor challenge to India's sovereignty'

India has expressed strong opposition to the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor+ (CPEC) project, which is the key to Beijing's ambitious 'One-Belt, One-Road' initiative, even as it slammed Islamabad for not taking concrete steps to stop crossborder terrorism.

"The CPEC passing through Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir challenges Indian sovereignty," said the Union defence ministry in its annual report submitted to Parliament on Wednesday.

In the past too, India has criticised the Chinese-funded CPEC, which links China's Muslim dominated Xinjiang province to the Gwadar deep-sea port+ in Pakistan, because it passes through Gilgit-Baltistan in PoK, which New Delhi considers its own territory. During the G-20 summit at Hangzhou in September last year, PM Narendra Modi had expressed India's concerns over the CPEC in his bilateral meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, holding that the two countries needed to be "sensitive" to each other's strategic interests.

Taking note of China's significant restructuring of its People's Liberation Army to boost its offensive military capabilities, the defence ministry also reiterated India's support for freedom of navigation and overflight, and unimpeached commerce, based on international laws in the contentious South China Sea.

New Delhi has taken to criticising Beijing's strongarm tactics in the South China Sea+ , even as it slowly but steadily builds military ties with countries like Vietnam, Malaysia and others locked in territorial disputes with China in the region.

"India undertakes various activities, including cooperation in the oil and gas sector, with littoral states of South China Sea (Vietnam, for instance)...India believes that states should resolve disputes through peaceful means....," said the MoD.
 Turning to Pakistan, the MoD said: "Although the (Pakistani) military has made efforts to improve the security situation in the country, it has avoided taking action against jihadi and terror outfits that target Pakistan's neighbours." "Support to such groups persists despite ongoing efforts by the international community, including India, to list the head of the terrorist group Jaish-e-Muhammed, Masood Azhar, as an international terrorist," it added.

"Such outfits continued to be encouraged to infiltrate into India under the cover of massive cross-LoC and cross-border firing in J&K and other areas throughout the year. Pakistan-based terrorists attacked military bases in India, triggering an appropriate response by the Indian armed forces (the September 29 surgical strikes against terror launch pads in PoK)," it added.

As for the internal security situation in J&K, especially in the aftermath of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani in July last year, the MoD said it is currently tense but under control. "Relentless counter-terrorist operations by the Army, along with other security forces, in the hinterland have thwarted the plans of Pakistan to give a fillip to the proxy war being waged against India," it said.


F-16s, Made in India

India is in the market for a new fighter plane—actually, about 200 new fighter planes. The country's fleet of MiG 21s is aging and increasingly prone to accidents, so it is seeking a replacement capable of air superiority and ground-attack missions. Initial reports suggested that the indigenously produced Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) might play this role. The Tejas, however, has been plagued with problems; a government investigation identified 53 design flaws, including underpowered engines, excess weight, poor maneuverability, lack of fuel capacity, underperforming radar, and maintenance shortcomings. Thus, despite a development process spanning more than 30 years, the Tejas remains unfit for combat duty. A Tejas Mark II will supposedly address many of the first edition’s shortcomings, but flight testing is not expected to commence until late 2018. 
Indian leaders are therefore looking to foreign manufacturers to produce a single-engine fighter in India, in accordance with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s so-called Make in India initiative. It appears that New Delhi will choose between Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon and Saab’s JAS 39 Gripen. The F-16 and the Gripen are highly capable and technically well matched, and both have their advocates in the Indian strategic community. The Falcon is particularly attractive, however, because of its ubiquity; it is one of the most widely used fighter aircraft in the world. By taking over production, India would be tapping into a large market for the plane and related products and services.
Lockheed Martin is offering to move its entire production line for the iconic fighter plane from Texas to India. That would be a second-best option for all involved. From a U.S. perspective, the optimal outcome would be to acquire India as an F-16 customer while continuing to produce the plane in Texas and keeping the associated jobs at home. From an Indian perspective, the best outcome would be the development of an indigenous fighter aircraft to avoid reliance on anyone else’s technology. Such independence has always been an important Indian strategic goal.
But neither side has any real alternative. For all of India’s recent economic and technical achievements, it lacks the ability to develop a world-class fighter on its own, as the LCA project painfully and repeatedly demonstrated. Insisting on an indigenous solution would result in endless delays and a sub-standard product, seriously compromising Indian security. Further, the Tejas is already built largely from imported parts, including U.S. engines. Thus, by buying a foreign aircraft, India is actually forgoing less autonomy than it initially might appear.
The United States, for its part, needs partnership with India to ensure that F-16 production continues. The United States acquired its first operational F-16s in 1979 and received its last plane in 2005. With no new F-16 orders scheduled beyond this year, the Texas assembly line could soon shut down. A deal with India would not keep the U.S. plant open, but it would at least ensure that the aircraft remains in production, generating employment and revenue from such sources as parts orders and licensing fees. These benefits would grow as India sells planes to new or returning third-party customers, which could include Bahrain, Colombia, and Indonesia, among others.
Perhaps most important, the Lockheed deal would give India and the United States an opportunity to work together on a significant, technically sophisticated defense project. That would build trust and bind the two countries closer as China’s rise creates uncertainty in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region. Indo-Swedish cooperation on the Gripen would undoubtedly be a good thing as well. It is not, however, as strategically valuable to India or the United States as a closer Indo-American partnership.
It is true that the F-16’s capabilities are well known to potential adversaries, particularly the Pakistanis, who have flown the aircraft since the 1980s. But this is a tradeoff inherent in getting one of the world’s most proven combat aircraft. More important, the Block-70 version of the F-16 that India would produce features upgrades in avionics and operational capabilities that far outstrip the older Pakistani planes. And India would likely be able to veto future F-16 sales to sensitive states such as Pakistan. Pakistani familiarity with the F-16, then, is not a reason to avoid it.
An agreement to produce F-16s in India might not be what either the United States or India would want in a perfect world. But in the real world, insistence on the ideal will lead to something worse than the compromises inherent in an F-16 agreement. In far too many cases, India’s quest for the ideal in defense acquisitions has resulted in sub-optimal outcomes. In India’s search for a new fighter plane, second best is best.


March 15, 2017

Anti-ballistic missile system for Indian metros soon

After successful trials of two homegrown interceptor missiles in a gap of 20 days at both high and low altitudes, India is now planning to deploy the anti-ballistic missile system to protect its metros from hostile aerial attacks.

A senior defence official said initially, the Government is contemplating to put the ballistic missile defence (BMD) system in place at least in New Delhi.

‘’The decision to implement the system will be taken likely this year after a couple of trials of the missiles in a coordinated manner,’’ he said.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has developed two-layered BMD systems to intercept targets at exo and endo-atmospheric (both outside and inside the atmosphere) regions. Both the systems have been test fired 13 times since 2006.

While Prithvi Defence Vehicle (PDV), capable of destroying incoming targets at high altitude, was successfully test fired for the second time on February 11, ninth test of Advanced Area Defence (AAD) interceptor missile, which can kill the enemy missile at low altitude, was a great success on March 1.

“Both the missiles have undergone a series of tests and performed as expected. Prior to PDV tests, at least two tests of Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) were conduced. These are now foolproof systems,’’ the official claimed.

After successful implementation in Delhi, the system will be deployed to cover all other major cities and vital installations in the country. The interceptors can destroy incoming ballistic missiles launched from more than 2,000 km away. The missiles will work in tandem to ensure a hit probability of 99.8 per cent.

The DRDO has two phases of the BMD systems. While the phase-I interceptors are now ready for deployment, the phase-II missiles, capable of thwarting threats from enemy missiles with ranges of 5,000 km, are expected to be ready in next couple of years.

Meanwhile, the DRDO is developing a laser-based BMD system. The new interceptor can travel at the speed of sound and kill incoming missiles in less than one minute. It will have the flexibility to be fired from both airborne and seaborne platforms.

‘’We have already test-fired exo and endo interceptors separately. Preparation is on to test the two simultaneously at different targets before their deployment. Thereafter, we will go for the test of laser-based BMD system,’’ the officer added.


China set to deploy 1 lakh marine corps at ports in Gwadar and Djibouti , Against India

In a move aimed at exerting its influence abroad, China has planned to expand its marine corps extensively including at the strategic Gwadar port in Pakistan and military logistics base in Djibouti in the Indian Ocean.

According to reports, the plan is to increase the number of marine corps personnel from 20,000 to 1 lakh. The move will be accompanied by cuts to the Chinese military's land forces in an attempt to modernize the People's Liberation Army.

Hong Kong based South China Morning Post on Monday reported that the expansion is planned to protect China’s maritime lifelines and its growing interests overseas.

Some members will be stationed at ports China operates in Djibouti and Gwadar in southwest Pakistan.

Gwadar port is a deep-sea port next to the Strait of Hormuz, the key oil route in and out of the Persian Gulf, built with Chinese funding and operated by mainland firms. Although the port is not home to any PLA installation, navy ships are expected to dock at the facility in the near future, the report said.

Gwadar also connects the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) through PoK with China’s Xinjiang.

Reports from Pakistan said that the country itself is setting up Special Security Division comprising 15,000 troops, including 9,000 Pakistan Army soldiers and 6,000 para-military forces personnel to protect CPEC and Chinese personnel.

The expanded Chinese marine corps is part of a wider push to refocus the world’s largest army away from winning a land war based on sheer numbers and towards meeting a range of security scenarios using highly specialised units, the Hong Kong based daily said.

Towards that end, Chinese President Xi Jinping is reducing the size of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) by three lakh, with nearly all of the cuts coming from the land forces, it said.

For this, two brigades of special combat soldiers had already been moved to the marines, nearly doubling its size to 20,000, and more brigades would be added, the report said.

“The PLA marines will be increased to 100,000, consisting of six brigades in the coming future to fulfil new missions of our country,” it quoted a source as saying.

The size of the navy would also grow 15 per cent from its current estimated size of 2.35 lakh personnel.

China this year plans to increase its defence spending by about seven per cent to USD 152 billion. Much of it was expected to go to the navy as China plans to spread its influence far from its shores.

Traditionally, marines have mostly operated only in China’s coastal areas, as their role was limited by their relatively small numbers and basic equipment, Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie said.

But a bigger corps could be deployed much farther afield as the navy takes on more challenges.

“Besides its original missions of a possible war with Taiwan, maritime defence in the East and South China seas, it’s also foreseeable that the PLA Navy’s mission will expand overseas, including protection of China’s national security in the Korean peninsula, the country’s maritime lifelines, as well as offshore supply deports like in Djibouti and Gwadar port in Pakistan,” Li said.

Beijing has one aircraft carrier and is building one more with a third in the pipeline.

China is constructing a naval base in Djibouti to provide what it calls logistical support in one of the world’s busiest waterways in the Indian Ocean.

China denies it is an overseas military base but a logistics centre which will be used mostly for resupply purposes for anti-piracy, humanitarian and peacekeeping operations.

Liu Xiaojiang, a former navy political commissar, said the maritime force would take on an increasingly central role in the military.

“China is a maritime country and as we defend our maritime rights and develop our interests, the status of the navy will be more important,” Liu told reporters on the sidelines of China’s parliament session.

Macau-based military observer Antony Wong Dong said an expanded marine corps could help maintain security for China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative.

The plan calls for new trade and investment links stretching from Southeast Asia to eastern Europe, and will likely see Chinese companies as well as their workers operating in high-risk areas such as Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The marines were established in the 1950s in the aftermath of the civil war between China’s Communists and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists who fled to Taiwan.

For decades, Taiwan had the second-largest marine force in the world, after the United States, but its stature began to decline in the 1990s when Beijing began pursuing claims in the South China Sea.


March 13, 2017

India unlikely to purchase more Rafale fighter jets

The government does not seem keen to place a follow-on order to buy twin-engine Rafale fighter planes made by French aerospace major Dassault Aviation even as the Indian Air Force (IAF) faces a depletion of its fleet.

The Indian government signed a contract to purchase 36 Rafale fighter jets in fly-away condition on September 23 for a whopping $8.8 billion. The original plan was to buy 126 Rafale jets. However, the plan was trimmed owing to the cost of each aircraft and only 36 were bought after protracted negotiations with France.

As a result, it is now unlikely that the government will place any further orders to buy these expensive planes even though it needs additional aircraft, sources in the Defence Ministry told BusinessLine.

“Follow on orders for the Rafale are a big question mark. Where is the money going to come from? There are much cheaper options available,” said a senior official.

At present, IAF has 34 squadrons out of the 42 required to guard the skies. This is the lowest count for the IAF in the last decade. Each squadron consists of 18 aircraft. Apart from this, 11 squadrons consisting of MiG-21s, are looking at retirement, which will pose an additional challenge.

So, the demand for fighter jets remains. Even though India chose to buy only 36 Rafales after cancelling the plan to acquire 126, the original requirement still remains.

However, sources said the government was now focused on acquiring single-engine fighter jets, the deal size of which is around $12 billion. The frontrunners in this are Saab’s Gripen and Lockheed Martin’s F-16.

Dassault Aviation has already made it clear to the government that it will not be able to go for full transfer of technology and create an industrial ecosystem by manufacturing the planes here under the ‘Make in India’ programme unless it is given additional orders.

Dassault eyes carriers ::

However, sources also said that Dassault Aviation is now lobbying with the government on the Indian Navy’s plan to purchase 57 Multi-Role Carrier Borne Fighters.

But, it seems the MoD will not be opting for Rafale due to its high price. As a result, Boeing and MiG are now eyeing the deal. Boeing has offered its F/A-18 Super Hornet, which is being used by the US Navy.

According to sources, the cost of maintaining Rafale jets is also higher than other aircraft offering a similar platform. Eric Trappier, Chairman and CEO, Dassault Aviation had said on the sidelines of the Aero India show last month that the company would set up a plant to manufacture the fighter jets in India only for an order of more than a 100 jets.


March 11, 2017

India-Russia create history with successful test of longer range 450-km version of supersonic cruise missile

Giving a significant edge to India’s defence preparedness and strike capability, an extended range version of the BrahMos cruise missile has been successfully test fired! DRDO tested the latest 450-km range version of the cruise missile days after its chief announced its development at the Aero India 2017. Talking about today’s test, Sudhir Mishra, MD & CEO of BrahMos Aerospace said, “The extended range BrahMos hit the target with centimetric accuracy. It’s a big leg up for us and it was a fantastic test flight. With this new version, all three forces, Army, Navy and IAF will have the capability to strike deep into the enemy’s territory.” “This is the first for the world – a supersonic cruise missile with such a high range,” Mishra told FE Online.

DRDO chief S Christopher had said that India and Russia have agreed to the enhancement of BrahMos’ range to 450 km, and the tentative date for the test of the new version of the supersonic cruise missile is March 10. The new 450-km version is likely to send jitters in Pakistan. The news from Aero India also suggested that China will soon have reason to be wary of Brahmos’ strike power. S Christopher said that yet another version of the BrahMos is under development, and it will have a range of 800 km! According to S Christopher, the missile will be ready for tests in the next two and a half years.

BrahMos has been developed as part of a joint venture between India and Russia, and the missile had an initial range of 290 km. India has been able to work on increasing the range of the BrahMos missile from its current 290 km after it became a member of the prestigious Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

While the Indian Army and Indian Navy have already inducted the 290-km BrahMos, it is likely to clear the final test for IAF in the first half of this year itself. BrahMos has been integrated on the IAF’s Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft, and according to Sudhir Mishra, this is the heaviest missile to be flown on that frontline fighter aircraft. Sources in BrahMos Aerospace told FE Online that the missile will be test fired from IAF’s Su-30 MKI sometime in April or May.

As pointed out earlier, a missile as heavy as the BrahMos has never been integrated on a frontline fighter jet like Su-30 MKI. This is a first in the world, and is therefore set to give the IAF a big shot in the arm. BrahMos can penetrate into the enemy’s territory and destroy crucial and strategic assets.

In its current form (290-km), the BrahMos has a maximum velocity of 2.8 Mach and cruises at altitudes varying from 10 metres to 15 km. It can be launched in either inclined or vertical configuration based on the type of the ship. The land-attack version of BrahMos is fitted on an mobile autonomous launcher. BrahMos is also capable of being launched from submarine from a depth of 40-50 metres.
 - financialexpress

March 10, 2017

Harbours at risk: Indian Navy to be without minesweepers for at least 3 years

The Indian Navy will be without a single minesweeper till 2021 as the existing fleet of 6 vessels will be decommissioned by next year, a parliamentary panel report has revealed.

Navies use minesweepers to keep sea lanes mine-free, secure major harbours and destroy minefields near enemy shores while undertaking offensive action.

India could sign a Rs 32,640-crore deal with a South Korean shipyard for building 12 mine countermeasure vessels (MCMVs) in the country by March 31, but the first of those are likely to be delivered only in 2021. Any delay in hammering out the deal could further upset the navy’s calculations.

In its latest report tabled in Parliament, the standing committee on defence asked the government to make “sincere and concerted efforts” to equip the navy with the critical capability.

“The MCMVs are slated for de-induction by 2016-2018. 2016 has already passed and moreover, building the MCMVs will also take considerable time. The committee feels that the entire process of procurement of MCMVs will be delayed inordinately,” the report said.

The new MCMVs will be built at Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) in collaboration with Busan-based Kangnam Corporation under the government’s Make in India initiative. Though the deal was supposed to be closed last year, discussions on technology transfer to India caused some delays.

All 12 vessels will be constructed in India, and are expected to have 60% indigenous content. The construction of the first vessel is expected to begin in April 2018, and deliveries likely to be completed between 2021 and 2026.

After scrapping an earlier tender to import minesweeping vessels due to alleged irregularities, the government nominated GSL in February 2015 to build minesweepers in partnership with a foreign shipyard under the Make in India programme.

Until now, the GSL has spent Rs 800 crore on scaling up infrastructure to kick off construction of the vessels.

Facilities are being created for building glass-reinforced plastic hulls, a design that reduces the ship’s magnetic signature and allows safer navigation through waters that could be mined. The minesweepers will have a displacement of 800 to 1,000 tonnes.

Mines are deployed to limit the enemy’s ability to use the sea. These underwater weapons can detonate on contact, or be activated by magnetic and acoustic signatures.


Bill to name 'untrustworthy ally' Pakistan state sponsor of terrorism introduced in US Congress

  • It's time for a "radical reset" with Pakistan, said Congressman Poe and James Clad, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia
  • The US has to change its accommodative stance vis-a-vis Pakistan
An influential US Congressman yesterday introduced a strongly worded bill in Congress to declare "untrustworthy ally" Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism.

"Not only is Pakistan an untrustworthy ally, Islamabad has also aided and abetted enemies of the United States for years,"said Congressman Ted Poe, who is Chair of the House Subcommittee on Terrorism.

"From harboring Osama bin Laden to its cozy relationship with the Haqqani network, there is more than enough evidence to determine whose side Pakistan is on in the War on Terror. And it's not America's. It is time we stop paying Pakistan for its betrayal and designate it for what it is: a State Sponsor of Terrorism," Poe said while introducing the bill, the Pakistan State Sponsor of Terrorism Act of 2015, in Congress yesterday.

The bill requires the US President to issue a report within 90 days, answering whether Pakistan has provided support for international terrorism. Thirty days after that, the Secretary of State is required to submit a follow-up report, which says that Pakistan is a state sponsor of terrorism, or a detailed justification as to why it does not meet the legal criteria for such a designation.

It's time for a "radical reset" with Pakistan, said Congressman Poe and James Clad, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for Asia, in an article in Nationalinterest.org dated March 8. They say the US is in "a toxic relationship" with Pakistan and needs to "to finally set limits on its indulgence" towards Islamabad. The authors of the article are scathing about the US-Pakistan relationship. They describe it as a "weird psychology" at play.

'Weird psychology' between US, Pak ::

"Pakistan has become a quasi-adversary, receiving hundreds of billions through the years in direct and indirect U.S. support, a strange hostage-like arrangement in which we pay Islamabad to do what it should be doing anyway to protect its own domestic security and buttress Afghan stability," Poe and Clad wrote.

The authors can't get their heads around another bit of what they call "weird psychology". That is, the US looking the other way as Pakistan acquired nuclear-weapons capability even as it went "through the kabuki dance of annual nonproliferation certification."

How can this " weird psychology+ " be reversed, Poe and Clad ask in the article, and then suggest some ways to "put the toxic psychology behind us."

The authors emphatically believe the US shouldn't rush to bolster Pakistan's balance of payments via the IMF or other intermediaries, as they've done before. "Let China pay that, if the Pakistanis wish to mortgage their future in that way," they suggest mock-helpfully.

Essentially, the US has to change its accommodative stance vis-a-vis Pakistan, regardless of, and independent of Indo-US relations. Whatever method the US chooses, "something must change in our dealings with a terrorist-supporting, irresponsible nuclear-weapons state", Poe and Clad conclude


March 9, 2017

After Sukhoi 'mistake', India to go for Russian 5th-generation fighter only on full-tech transfer pact

India will go in for the multi-billion dollar joint development and production of a fifth-generation fighter aircraft (FGFA) with Russia only if there is full-scale transfer of technology as well as "benefits" for the indigenous effort to build a futuristic stealth fighter.

Defence ministry sources say this decision has been taken at the "highest levels" in order to "not repeat the mistakes" of the entire Sukhoi-30MKI jet acquisition programme from Russia, which cost India Rs 55,717 crore without any tangible help in developing indigenous fighter-manufacturing capabilities.

"Though bulk of the 272 Sukhois (240 inducted till now) contracted from Russia have been made by Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL), they have been basically assembled here with imported knocked-down kits. HAL still cannot manufacture the Sukhois on its own," said a source. A HAL-made Sukhoi (around Rs 450 crore) also costs Rs 100 crore more than the price of the same jet imported from Russia.

So, despite Russian pressure to ink the long-pending final R&D contract for the FGFA, India now wants to know whether it will get good value for the estimated $25 billion it will spend to induct 127 of these single-seat jets. The two countries, incidentally, had inked the FGFA inter-governmental agreement way back in 2007, which was followed by a $295 million preliminary design contract in 2010 before the negotiations stalled.

India has now laid down two essential prerequisites for the FGFA project, apart from examining its entire cost-effectiveness. One, there should be extensive technology transfer, including the "source codes", to ensure India can in the future upgrade the fighter with integration of new weapons on its own. Two, it should directly help the indigenous FGFA project called the advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), the preliminary design work for which is now under way, as was earlier reported by TOI.
 "This is mandatory. A high-level committee headed by an Air Marshal from IAF, which includes an IIT Kanpur professor and former chiefs of HAL and National Aerospace Laboratories, is examining all these aspects. The government will take a call after the report is submitted in April," said the source. A swing-role FGFA basically combines advanced stealth, supercruise capability (achieving supersonic cruise speeds without use of afterburners), super-maneuverability, data fusion and multi-sensor integration on a single fighter.

But IAF has been unhappy with the Russian FGFA called Sukhoi T-50 or PAK-FA because the jet lacks proper stealth and its engine does not have "enough thrust", which are among 43 critical modifications or shortcomings it pointed out earlier. Russia, however, is now promising the Indian FGFA or the "perspective multi-role fighter" will be quite different from the Sukhoi T-50, with more powerful engines and other capabilities. Under the main R&D contract, India and Russia are supposed to contribute $4 billion each for prototype development, testing and infrastructure build-up.Deliveries of the fighters, which will cost extra, were earlier supposed to begin 94 months after it was inked.


March 8, 2017

Russian guided-missile stealth frigates to be made in Goa

Goa Shipyard Ltd will collaborate with Russia's United Ship Building to build guided-missile stealth frigates for the Indian Navy, the Times of India reported on Mar. 7. The Project 11356 frigates are likely to be armed with BrahMos missiles, according to the paper.
“The Russian specialists from Yantar shipyard in Kaliningrad checked our infrastructure and R&D facilities,” Goa Shipyard Managing Director Shekhar Mital told the paper. “They looked around the facility and our audits and they seem impressed.”
The frigates are being built under a $4 billion deal signed between Russia and India during the 2016 bilateral summit in Goa. One frigate will be built at the Yantar shipyard, while three others will be manufactured under the Make in India model.
The frigates will be handed over to the Indian Navy in six years.
"It is a very complex project,” Mital told the Times of India. “It is in collaboration with the Russians and it is going to be long negotiations and tough discussions. It is going to be hard work for the next two years. It is a little too early to say anything. We have just been nominated for the project.”
India operates six Talwar-class frigates, which are the Project 11356 predecessors developed for exports. The Indian warships entered service in 2003-2004 and 2012-2013.


March 7, 2017

Navy set to get four new warships with deadly BrahMos

  • India's Defence Ministry has cleared the proposal for the new ships
  • Two would be built in Russia, while the other two would be constructed in India 
  • The Navy has long been calling for additional warships to maintain its ability to carry out operations in high seas, away from its own waters

  • Seeking to further strengthen the Navy's capabilities, the defence ministry has cleared a proposal worth Rs 20,000 crore to buy four state-of-the-art warships equipped with the deadly BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles.

    Two would be built in Russia and the other two in India, in a project crucial for the Navy which has been asking for additional warships to maintain its 'blue water' capabilities - the ability to carry out operations in high seas, far away from its waters.

    GSL chief rear admiral Shekhar Mittal said they have already started working in this direction and are ready for construction of such big warships.

    'We are already working on the project as our shipyard was recently modified to undertake the construction and integration of such weapon intensive platforms,' Mittal told Mail Today over phone.

    After approval by the defence acquisition council (DAC) headed by defence minister Manohar Parrikar, the Navy will now move towards preparing a commercial note for the project after getting price quotes from the Russian side and other vendors to be involved in the programme.

    Once the commercial and other related negotiations are done, the project will be sent across to the cabinet committee on security headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for final approval, sources said.

    The vessels would be the follow-on warships of the Talwar class frigates, six of which are already in the Navy and are known as project 11356 in the Russian Navy.

    Once the project starts, the GSL would take four years to start delivering the ships.

    The six previous warships of the Talwar class are already serving in the Navy and equipped with potent anti-ship missiles including the Russian Klub and BrahMos.

    They are Talwar, Trishul, Tabar, Teg, Tarkash and Trikand.

    Built fully in Russia, the first three have the Klub as their main weapon, while the rest have BrahMos as its major anti-ship arsenal.

    The locally-built warships will be manufactured by Goa Shipyard Ltd. (GSL) at its Vasco Da Gama facility, while the Yantar shipyard, which has delivered similar vessels for the Indian Navy in the past too, will build the other two warships, defence sources said.

    The Yantar shipyard has faced some problems in manufacturing the warships as the engines are built in Ukraine, which is not in good terms with Moscow at the moment.

    Sources in the GSL said the major portion of the weapon-intensive platforms would be made in India and more than 50 per cent of it would be built here.

    'Surface-to-air missiles, including Shtil-1, would be from Russia, but we are going to involve a lot of equipments such as electronic warfare components from India,' they said.

    The Navy has also given its mine counter-measure vessels (MCMVs) project worth Rs 32,000 crore to GSL. It has tied up with South Korean shipyard Kangnam to build 12 such boats.

    Senior defence ministry sources said Parrikar was a bit hesitant to nominate GSL for the project, but it was the only public sector shipyard available for completing the project.

    Others, such as Mazagon Dockyards Limited and GRSE, are busy with other important projects and almost working on full capacity.


    March 6, 2017

    After 20 years, INSAS rifles to be retired, Indian Army to get ‘deadlier’ foreign alternative

    After nearly 20 years, indigenous manufactured INSAS rifles will be finally ‘retiring’ from the army and replaced by an imported assault rifle which will be manufactured in the country later. The Indian Small Arms System (INSAS), which was inducted in the army 1988, is likely to be replaced with deadlier assault rifles of higher caliber (7.62×51), official sources said.

    The sources said that as many as 18 vendors, including some Indian companies having a tie-up with a foreign arms manufacturing firm, have sent in their consent to replace nearly two lakh such rifles used by the army along the borders and in counter-insurgency operations.

    The reason for phasing out of INSAS, as cited by experts, was that it was not effective at long range and at best, it could only maim the enemy.

    The sources said that 7.62×51 assault rifles have already been introduced in the Pakistani army which purchased them from Heckler and Koch, one of the world’s leading small arms manufacturers based in Germany.

    The proposal for procuring the new assault rifles was in pre-Acceptance of Necessity (AoN) stage and expected to be completed by the year end after putting the process of purchase of these weapons on a fast track.

    The sources said that emphasis was being laid on arming the Special Forces of the army in the Northeast as of now and the proposal will come up before the Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC) soon.

    After the new weaponry for the Special Forces aimed at helping them in close-combat situations, the focus will shift to procurement of the assault rifles and replace the INSAS, the sources said.

    The foreign vendor would also be required to participate in Transfer of Technology (ToT) so that there is no dearth of ammunition and maintenance of the assault rifles in the country. These weapons can kill the enemy up to an effective strength of 500 metres.

    The conceptualisation of the INSAS began in early 1980’s before it was finally handed over for production to Ichapur Ordnance Factory in West Bengal. In 1993, the design of the rifle was changed before being introduced in the army in 1996. The rifle was put to use during the 1999 Kargil war.


    March 5, 2017

    China announces about 7 per cent hike in defence spending

    China on Saturday said its defence budget in the coming year would rise by around 7 per cent, with its spending likely to cross 1 trillion yuan for first time and dwarf India's by three-and-a-half times.

    The budget, which will be approved at the annual National People's Congress (NPC) or Parliament session which opens on Sunday, comes as China pushes forward a massive modernisation programme and as its Navy expands its global footprint.

    With India announcing a less than expected 6.2 per cent rise in February to around $40 billion, China's spending will be more than three and a half times India's.

    China's defence spending last year was 954 billion Yuan or $146 billion in 2016, an increase of 7.6 per cent - the lowest in six years. China's defence outlay grew 10.1 per cent in 2015 to 886.85 billion Yuan after many years of double-digit growth.

    An around 7 per cent hike would take spending to more than 1 billion Yuan, but is not a huge increase in dollar terms. With a depreciating Yuan, a seven per cent rise would be around $148 billion, up from $146 billion last year.


    China's actual defence spending, some experts say, was closer to $225 billion last year, given the overlap between many civilian industries and paramilitary forces with the military.

    NPC spokesperson Fu Ying defended the hike, pointing to the US military which spends more than $600 billion on its military. Fu pointed out that China spend 1.3 per cent of its GDP on defence, less than many other countries.

    "The US will continue to grow military spending," Fu said.

    On concerns of China's neighbours, Fu said it was China's view that territorial and maritime disputes should be "settled peacefully".

    But at the same time she said China "needs the ability to safeguard its sovereign interests and rights."

    The hike comes as China goes forward with modernising its armed forces and expanding its navy.

    Much of the hike, analysts say, is likely to fund the PLA Navy's plans. Last month, China announced that its second aircraft carrier was nearing readiness and would likely be operational by 2020.

    Yin Zhuo, a rear admiral and a senior researcher at the PLA Navy Equipment Research Center, told the Global Times that "in order to protect China's territories and overseas interests, China needs two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean. So we need at least five to six aircraft carriers," he said.


    India gears up to fight nuclear attacks

    The strong possibility that chemical weapons were used in Wednesday’s attacks in Afghanistan has brought the dangerous reality to India’s doorsteps. Pakistan’s growing arsenal of strategic and tactical nuclear weapons and the declared intent of terror outfits like Al Qaeda, Taliban and ISIS to acquire non-conventional weapons, including chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, has resonated very strongly in India and rapid steps are already underway to combat such attacks, be it from state or non-state actors.
    “We have not faced nuclear or chemical attacks, but we will have to be prepared at every moment to deal with the issue,” defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Thursd-ay. Alluding to reports of chemical attacks by the Taliban in Afghanistan on Wednesday, he said: “While these reports are yet to be confirmed, I have seen photographs of the local population suffering from blisters and burns and they are quite distressing.”
    Significantly on Thursd-ay itself, the state-owned Defence Research and De-velopment Organisation (DRDO) handed over to the Army the NBC (nuc-lear, biological and chemical) Recce Vehicle which is all set to be deployed.
    Resembling a battle tank and equipped with GPS navigation, meteorological sensors and radiation sensors, the NBC Recce Vehicle is capable of conducting effective reconnaissance of radiological and chemically contaminated areas, demarcation of contaminated zones, real-time communication of digital data after analysing the solid and liquid samples to the supported formation.
    “The utility of the NBC Recce Vehicle goes beyond warfare and will prove to be indispensable in any NBC disaster situation too,” said a source who has worked on the development of the vehicle.
    Going beyond, the DRDO has also introduced a bouquet of radio-protectors and radio-mitigator drugs that are required to reduce the effects of gamma irradiation substantially in the aftermath of a nuclear, chemical and biological attack.
    In a nuclear disaster, a person is exposed to gam-ma radiations. In high dos-es, radiation syndromes can kill in hours to days to a few months, while in low doses, genetic and cancer disorders may result.
    Radio-protectors and radio-mitigator drugs are required to reduce the effects of gamma irradiation substantially. The drugs have been put to Drug Controller General for special approvals, while provisioning to Indian armed forces has already started as these are life-saving drugs.
    “The DRDO has also provided a NBC kit to the Indian defence forces although it has been segregated into elements for field use and in the hospital on the advice of the Army authorities,” said a top DRDO official on condition of anonymity.


    March 4, 2017

    Indian engineers study the repair of Mi-17-1V helicopters in Russia

     A plant in Novosibirsk is repairing Indian-owned Mi-17s.
    A delegation of aeronautical engineers from India have gone to Novosibirsk for a special training, where they are studying the repair of Mi17-1V helicopters, Russian Helicopters said in a press release on Mar. 2.
    The engineers are being trained at the Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant, which is owned by Russian Helicopters.
    Currently, the plant is carrying out repairs on a batch of five Mi-17-1V helicopters that are owned by India. The repairs are expected to be completed in June 2017.
    The Novosibirsk Aircraft Repair Plant will repair 30 Indian Mi-17-1V helicopters by mid-2018.
    Russian Helicopters, a Rostec holding, is one of the world leaders in the helicopter industry and the only developer and manufacturer of helicopters in Russia.


    Russian Aerostats Radar to be Backbone of Indian Border Defense

    Russian Aerostats radar is back to give Indian armed forces the teeth along India’s border with Pakistan. In the major overhaul of obsolete air defense system along the border, the Russian system will be deployed with Israeli SPYDER air defense missile this year.

    Defense sources told Sputnik delivery of Russian Aerostats radar is expected to start in a few months and will be fitted with Israeli EL/M-2083 early-warning radars. India will replace its age-old air defense system at six air bases and some other critical locations along western border with SPYDER, which will replace Soviet-era OSA-AKM and ZRK-BD Strela-10M.

    “The EL/M 2083 will provide elevated view with the Russian Aerostats, thus enhancing the range for scanning threats. This will be linked to the SPYDER SR through the command center providing early warning thus facilitating Lock on Before Launch (LOBL) for the missile,” says Brigadier Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst.

    India has also deployed its indigenous 25-km range surface-to-air missile Akash along Pakistan border. However, little larger reaction time and less than 360 degrees coverage of Akash makes it less suitable for employment in the tactical battle areas.

    “The SPYDER SR system is a generation and a half ahead of the OSA and Strela which were essentially designed four decades ago. The SPYDER SR will provide a high degree of assurance in terms of air as well missile defense cover with a LOBL and Lock On After Launch, thus the reaction time will be much faster with high hit probability,” Bhonsle said.

    India had inked an $1.2 billion contract with the Israeli company in 2008-09 for the supply of 90 launchers. SPYDER incorporates RAFAEL's most advanced, air-to-air missiles: the I-Derby active radar (RF) missile and Python-5, a dual waveband Imaging Infra-Red (IIR) missile. Slant-launch SPYDER SR has 20-km intercept range.

    “The SPYDER is a much more modern and resilient system. Along with the Aerostats, it will substantially enhance the air defense cover available to ground formations,” Gurmeet Kanwal, distinguished fellow at the Delhi-based Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses.

    Delivery of the SPYDER has been delayed for more than five years as Indian armed forces decides to use high-mobility trucks made by Indian truck maker TATA.