Archive for October, 2014

In a first, the heads of the world’s largest democracies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama got together to pen an op-ed declaring their commitment to a “robust, reliable and enduring” partnership among their respective nations.

In a first, the heads of the world’s largest democracies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama got together to pen an op-ed declaring their commitment to a “robust, reliable and enduring” partnership amongst their respective nations. It’s a partnership whose time has come and is of particular significance in military and economic terms. The economic significance is apparent on considering numerous reports, ranging from McKinsey to Global Policy, predicting a shift of the world’s economic center of gravity to Asia in general, and India and China in particular, by around 2025.

The military significance is apparent given that the military center of gravity, in economic terms, has already shifted to India. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report of 2014, India accounted for 14 percent of the world’s arms imports from 2009 through 2013, more than any nation. The trend would continue into the next few decades as the India continues its modernization drive amidst a troubled and violent environment at home and in its neighborhood. The security scenario is not expected to improve anytime in the near future, India’s arms industry is yet to mature, and India’s economy is expected to continue booming with growth rates in gross domestic product that exceed the global average. Put briefly, India’s rising security needs would continue to be supported by a growing economy and the vortex of economy for the defense market would continue to be India. The potential value of Modi and Obama extending the US-India defense cooperation agreement until 2025 thus is pretty impressive.

A buyer’s market beckons, and arms sellers from across the world are already in India in a big way. However, most deals are related to conventional arms like military aircraft and ships. The competition is intense, and big bucks are being made. However, one needs to look beyond the conventional. It is here that space technology fits in. Space capabilities, particularly those related to reconnaissance, communication, and navigation, that enable militaries to perform their tasks optimally are inherent to any military modernization. They enable long distance communication, cross-border observation, precise delivery of firepower, personnel, relief material, and so on.

Apart from the military, space also affects other security agencies like the federal and state police forces, intelligence, and narcotics control, all of whom abound in India and all of whom aspire to put space to multifarious uses. For instance, observation satellites enable precise identification of cocaine plantations even in deep forest cover, making interdiction work so much easier. To put their potential demand in perspective, India has a massive standing army of over 1.5 million, another 1.5 million in paramilitary forces, and an even larger number of state police, all of whom covet space capabilities. All security modernization gravitates to space, and the acquisition and integration of space capabilities is an inherently costly affair involving lots of money.

India’s handicap lies in its patently civil space program that has civil origins and, unlike most other major spacefaring nations, is focused only on civil uses. Thus, India’s space capabilities are severely limited in their security applications. The glaring military vacuum is evidenced in the fact that though India has constellations of communication and observation satellites, it has only one dedicated military satellite. Apparently, civil use of space by India’s millions leaves few resources for its security applications. A shift of focus from civilian development to military uses is neither prudent nor affordable and hence not likely. At least none is expected in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the US is the acknowledged global leader in space capabilities, both of a civilian and military nature. In the civilian domain, a US-India Joint Working Group on civil space cooperation, formed in 2004, pursues the acquisition of civil capabilities; however, no such arrangement exists for defense products.

The vacuum thus lends itself to commercial opportunity. This is especially so in view of the extension of the defense cooperation pact until 2025. With no local industry, there exists little option for India apart from tapping into the foreign space industry. India’s space agency already has an excellent interface with private industry that provides a variety of products. The relation is likely to grow as both budgetary allocations and the needs rise. Funding has not fallen in the past decade and are is likely to decline in the next, as evidenced by an increased outlay in the twelfth five-year plan (2013–2018) of 400 billion rupees, or roughly US$6.5 billion.

Equally or perhaps even more significant is the fact that close to one-third of these allocations will flow into the industry. That is only expected to increase to surge as the space demands expand beyond civil to military applications. As it is, the 2013–14 figures of a combined defense and space budget are impressive at over $40 billion. As modernization gathers pace and aircraft, ships, and other items come in, the demand for space capabilities would rise proportionately. Integrating these capabilities into military systems is complex and needs support by industries with established competencies and experience. As of now, no Indian industry is known to have these, and hence the mantle falls on foreign providers. The harvest is ripe considering that in year 2014, the foreign investment limit has been raised from 26 to 49 percent. As it is, foreign imports constitute more than two-thirds of India’s total procurement and as the nascent Indian defense industry opens up, the opportunities rise aplenty.

India does seek to indigenize products and services. However, in a technology-intensive area like space, this is easier said than done. Space products are a result of long-term research and development and time in this case is no longer available: the modern military equipment is already arriving, but the supporting space systems are yet to come in. It is here that India’s new Defense Procurement Policy (DPP) of 2013 provides recourse. It encourages Indian companies to collaborate with foreign companies to obtain products not available locally. The Indian defense industry makes no space products. The DPP, in effect opens new vistas for the Indian defense industry to reorient business strategies and collaborate with foreign firms for space products. Joint ventures to tap into the burgeoning Indian market thus make enormous sense.

This sense is accentuated by the fact that as part of its drive to encourage foreign investment and manufacture of defense products, India has cleared 19 defense sector projects since September that were pending for last several years. Defense deals worth over $6 billion have also been cleared in the past three months. New vistas have opened up and the harvest is ripe. The opportunity is also not fleeting: it would last decades. The potential exists, the heads of nations concur, the defense pact presents an opportunity and there is but little reason for either party to not explore the sense and sensibility of the opportunity.

Source: Defence News
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NEW DELHI: The Modi government is cranking up clearances for long-pending projects considered critical to plug gaps in India’s operational military capabilities. If the first two meetings of the defence acquisitions council (DAC) cleared proposals worth Rs 40,000 crore, the third one on Saturday gave the nod to projects totalling around Rs 80,000 crore. 

The DAC, chaired by Arun Jaitley on Saturday, gave the green signal to long-term projects like the Rs 50,000 crore project to build six new stealth submarines with foreign collaboration in India as well as deals for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), “midget submarines” for special covert operations, Dornier aircraft, Russian Uran missiles for warships and the like. 

Significantly, it rejected the American “Javelin” ATGM offer despite the hard-sell by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel during his visit to India in August. Instead, it approved the purchase of the Israeli “Spike” tank-killing missiles, which had already been extensively trial-evaluated by the Indian Army last year. The likelihood of all this happening was first reported by TOI in its Thursday edition.

“National security is of paramount concern for the government. All hurdles and bottlenecks in the procurement process should be addressed expeditiously so that the pace of acquisitions is not stymied,” said Jaitley. 

The speed of clearances contrasted starkly with the feet-dragging under UPA on filling critical needs of armed forces. 

Take the project for the six new-generation submarines, which are to be armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance. Grappling with just 13 ageing diesel-electric submarines, the Navy has been crying hoarse for this project to get underway ever since it gained “acceptance of necessity” way back in November 2007. 

But with the UPA government forming committee after committee to review the plan, which earlier included importing two of the six submarines to save time, even the global tender for the mammoth project could not be issued for the last seven years. It will take seven to eight years for the first of these submarines to roll out once the contract is inked. 

The DAC has now decided that a committee will identify within six to eight weeks the public and private Indian shipyards that have the potential to indigenously build the six submarines in line with Modi’s “Make in India” policy. The RFP (request for proposal) will then be issued to the “compliant” shipyards, which in turn will tie up with a foreign collaborator, to submit their bids. 

Incidentally, defence PSU Mazagon Docks is already building the French Scorpene submarines, while the private sector L&T shipyard is helping in the construction of the country’s nuclear-powered submarines. Both, therefore, stand a better chance than the others in bagging the big project. 

The project for the third-generation ATGMs, with fire-and-forget capabilities, will also be a major one. The DAC on Saturday cleared an initial off-the-shelf purchase of 321 Israeli Spike launchers and 8,356 missiles for Rs 3,200 crore. 

This is to be followed by transfer of technology to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale indigenous manufacture since the Indian Army wants to equip all its 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units with these tank-killers. The Army is currently saddled with just second-generation ATGMs, and that too with a crippling 50% shortage in launchers and missiles. In all, the ATGM project would cost around Rs 20,000 crore. 

Another significant clearance was for the acquisition of two midget submarines or “chariots” for Rs 2,017 crore. These “underwater special purpose crafts” will be used for covert operations to land elite naval marine commandos or “Marcos” on enemy shores or installations.

Source : TOI

NEW DELHI: French aircraft giant Airbus is likely to tie up with the Tatas to manufacture transport planes for the defence sector, sources familiar with the development told TOI.

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India Air Force has plans to replace its Avros aircraft, and the Airbus-Tata combine is one among several groups that are expected to bid for the contract. An email sent to a Tata Sons spokesperson did not elicit any response.

Several Indian companies ranging from Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries to the Mahindras and Bharat Forge have entered the defence industry but the Tata Group seems to have taken an early lead in a segment hitherto dominated by imports.

The government has embarked on a “Make in India” campaign to ensure that the country emerges as a global hub for low-cost quality manufacturing; the defence sector is a key element in this strategy.

In August the Union cabinet approved raising the FDI in the sensitive defence sector and opened up railway infrastructure to foreign firms. The cabinet had also decided that FDI beyond 49% would be allowed in state-of-the art defence equipment manufacturing, with technology transfer under Indian control and management.

Technically, this means 100% FDI is allowed, but sources said this has been the position since 2002. As a safeguard, the Cabinet Committee on Security will approve such proposals. Sources also said that FDI up to 24% would be allowed via the automatic route.

Headquartered in Toulouse, Airbus has had close links with India, a key market for planes, for a while now. In 1988, Airbus struck a deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the Indian PSU to manufacture passenger doors for the A320 aircraft. In addition, Airbus India Engineering in Bangalore employs 350 local engineers working in engineering design and innovation activities; the number working directly or indirectly on Airbus programmes has reached some 5,000 Indian jobs, according to the company’s website.

Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Tata Sons, is the strategic aerospace and defence arm of the Tata group. It has a tie-up with US helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky.

Source : Defence News

NEW DELHI: The government is all set to take a call on two critical but long-delayed projects to plug operational military gaps in conventional diesel-electric submarines and anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), which together will cost well upwards of Rs 70,000 crore over the next decade or so.

Defence ministry sources said the two projects would be discussed by the defence acquisitions council (DAC) to be chaired by Arun Jaitley on Saturday. “Though there will be other items on the agenda, including the order for another 12 Dornier aircraft, the submarine and ATGM projects are likely to be the big-ticket ones,” said a source.

Both the long-term projects will involve indigenous production with foreign collaboration in tune with PM Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” policy. All the six new advanced stealth submarines, armed with both land-attack missile capabilities and air-independent propulsion for greater underwater endurance, will now be built in India, as was first reported by TOI last month.

Similarly, the Army project involves a direct acquisition of around 900 launchers and 3,200 missiles of third-generation ATGMs or “tank-killers”, followed by transfer of technology (ToT) to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale manufacture. In all, at least 1,914 launchers and 37,860 missiles will be required to equip the Army’s 382 infantry battalions and 44 mechanised infantry units.

Significantly, MoD sources said the Army has pitched for the Israeli “Spike” ATGM over the American “Javelin” missile in the DAC. The US has been hard-selling the Javelin in recent months, with defence secretary Chuck Hagel in August offering not only to “co-produce” the ATGMs but also “co-develop” its fourth-generation version with India.

But it was the earlier reluctance of the US for full ToT which led India to consider and extensively test the Israeli Spike ATGM. “The Army feels the latest US offer to co-produce and co-develop the Javelin is not very clear and not likely to meet our ToT requirements. The Israeli Spike, in turn, has already undergone our trials. It’s also cheaper than the Javelin,” said the source.

The global tender for the Navy’s project to build the six new-generation stealth submarines, in turn, is yet to be even floated despite getting “acceptance of necessity” way back in November 2007 due to political apathy and bureaucratic bottlenecks.

The original plan was that the first two submarines would be imported to save time, given the country’s rapidly-depleting underwater combat arm, with the next three being constructed at Mazagon Docks (Mumbai) and one at Hindustan Shipyard (Visakhapatnam) with ToT from the foreign company eventually selected.

But with the Navy now agreeing that all the six submarines will be built in India, there is hope for the DAC’s quick approval to float the tender or Request for Proposal (RFP). It will, after all, take at least three years to select the foreign collaborator, and another seven to eight years thereafter for the first submarine to roll out in the complex project.

Source : TOI

India’s Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh is set to make a high-level visit to Israel next month, in the first Home Minister visit since a 2000 trip that began resurgent bilateral ties – the visit comes after India last month approved a $144 million missile purchase from Israel.

Singh, whose position is roughly parallel to Internal Security Minister, is to meet Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on November 6 as part of a four-day trip with senior officials, Indian diplomatic sources told the Times of India on Thursday.

India is currently the largest buyer of Israeli defense hardware, and Israel’s military delegation to India is second only in size to its delegation to America. The two countries also have a Joint Working group on counter-terrorism, with bilateral ties flourishing under India’s new Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Netanyahu and Modi met in New York last month, where he told him “we are excited about the possibilities of stronger ties with India, and the sky is the limit.”

The statement came the same month that Modi approved the purchase of 262 Israeli-made Barak 1 surface-to-air missiles, in a $144 million deal that will arm India’s 14 battleships over the course of five years.

The deal had been frozen since a scandal in 2006, when suspicions of corruption by Indian politicians surfaced claiming that they had taken bribes in return for advancing weapons deals. Those suspicions were never proven, and with Israeli-Indian ties flourishing the deal has come back into play.

India has been actively buying Israeli weapons; last year it approved the purchase of 15 Heron drones.

The two countries are also involved in joint military projects, with Israel developing the Barak 8 advanced missile in cooperation with India, further pointing to the strong military ties.

Reportedly India is also looking to sell its Iron Dome anti-missile defense system to India as well, as India is interested in using the system to defend its key assets.

As defense ties with America continue to grow tense, as highlighted in Operation Protective Edge when US President Barack Obama froze the routine transfer of Hellfire missiles to Israel and ordered scrutiny on future shipments, Israel continues to show signs of developing Asian allies such as India, China and Japan.

Source : Defence News
In a move expected to rake in investments into the defence sector, the government on Monday allowed private defence manufacturing firms to sell equipment to state-run entities without prior approval.

In a move expected to rake in investments into the defence sector, the government on Monday allowed private defence manufacturing firms to sell equipment to state-run entities without prior approval.

However, permission would be required to sell to non-government entities, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.

“The Licensee shall be allowed to sell defence items to government entities under the control of Ministry of Home Affairs, State governments, Public Sector Undertakings and other valid Defence Licensed Companies without approval of the Department of Defence Production [DoDP],” the Ministry said in a communiqué on Monday.

“However, for sale of the items to any other entity, the Licensee shall take permission from the DoPD,” it said.

The Ministry also removed the cap on the annual production capacity for defence-related equipment. However, licensed firms would be required to submit their production returns to the government every six months.

Source : Defence News
Indian defence scientists have developed a cruise missile – the Nirbhay – which was successfully test-fired today from Chandipur in Odisha. Its first test on March 12 last year had failed, with the missile being terminated after launch as it deviated from its flight trajectory.
1. It is a sub-sonic cruise missile. It blasts off like a rocket, but then unlike a missile, it turns into an aircraft. Unlike other ballistic missiles like the Agni, Nirbhay has wings and pronounced tail fins.

2. In early flight after launch, the rocket motor falls off and the small wings get deployed. 

3. At this point a gas turbine engine kicks in and it becomes like a full aircraft.

4. The Nirbhay is very maneuverable and can fly at tree-top level making it difficult to detect on radar.

5. Once near the target, it can even hover, striking at will from any direction. 

6. It can strike targets more than 700 km away carrying nuclear warheads, giving India the capability to strike deep into enemy territory.

7. It gives India the capacity to launch different kinds of payloads at different ranges from various platforms at a very low cost. It can be launched from a mobile launcher. 

8. The missile has a fire-and-forget system that cannot be jammed.

9. It is India’s answer to America’s Tomahawk and Pakistan’s Babur missile. The US had deployed cruise missiles very effectively during the Gulf War. 

10. India has made ballistic missile and tactical missiles of different capacity, but is yet to master the making of a cruise missile.

Source : Defence News
BALASORE (Odisha): India’s indigenously developed nuclear capable sub-sonic cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’, which can strike targets more than 700 kms away, was today test-fired from a test range at Chandipur near here.

“The missile was test-fired from a mobile launcher positioned at launch pad 3 of the Integrated Test Range at about 10.03 hours,” said an official soon after the flight took off from the launch ground.

“Flight details will be available after data retrieved from radars and telemetry points, monitoring the trajectories, are analysed,” the official said.

It is the second test of the sub-sonic long range cruise missile ‘Nirbhay’ from the ITR.

The maiden flight, conducted on March 12, 2013 could not achieve all the desired parameters as “the flight had to be terminated mid-way when deviations were observed from its intended course,” sources said.

India has in its arsenal the 290 km range supersonic “BrahMos” cruise missile which is jointly developed by India and Russia.

Source: Defence News
India will be focusing efforts on strengthening military ties with countries in the immediate neighbourhood. Army chief General Dalbir Singh’s first set of foreign tours in the coming months will be to Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar.

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This is in line with the new government’s plans to revitalise ties with neighbouring countries.

The army chief is likely to travel to Bhutan and Nepal later this year followed by visits to the other neighbouring countries next year.

Bhutan’s significance as one of India’s closest allies was evident when Prime Minister Narendra Modi chose to visit Thimphu in June barely three weeks after being sworn in as PM.

China, which shares a 470-km long boundary with Bhutan, has unresolved border issues with the Himalayan kingdom. New Delhi had established the Indian Military Training Team (IMTRAT) in Bhutan in 1962 to train Bhutanese officers.

During the years of the royal autocracy and the initial years of peace process when there were restrictions on the military’s operations, India had stopped supplying arms to the Nepal Army. But supplies have now been restored. There remains a special relationship between the two armies, with their chiefs treated as honorary generals of the other army. The visits to Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh are also significant in view of growing Chinese presence in these countries.

Source : Defence News

“Our target is to make India missile-import free by the year 2022. This means that we need not import any missile in terms of air-to-ground, surface-to-air or the air-to-air missiles,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander told PTI.

“Our target is to make India missile-import free by the year 2022. This means that we need not import any missile in terms of air-to-ground, surface-to-air or the air-to-air missiles,” DRDO chief Avinash Chander told PTI. 

“We have shared our vision with the Prime Minister’s Office and the government at the top-level,” he said. 

The DRDO chief said over the years, the country has already developed an expertise in the field of strategic missiles such as the Agni and Prithvi missiles which have now been inducted into the armed forces. 

After the imposition of ban on Indian military research establishments, India attained the know-how and developed strategic missile systems indigenously with very little or negligible equipment being imported from outside the country for them. 

He said a number of missile development programmes were on where DRDO was working to make missiles to replace the imported systems. The systems being developed include the air-to-air Astra missile, 1,500km-range Nirbhay sub-sonic cruise missile and the BMP-mounted Nag anti-tank guided missile system. 

To a query on the export prospects of indigenous systems, Chander said the government has to evolve a policy in this regard. 

He said DRDO was of the view that private sector firms should be given the responsibility of developing equipment based on the technology provided by it and also market it abroad. 

DRDO has plans to export its fully-developed equipment such as the Pragati missile, which was showcased recently in foreign military exhibitions in countries such as South Korea, the Akash missile system and the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile.

Source : Defence News