Archive for April, 2015

The Army is facing major technical issues with its ‘indigenous’ Arjun tanks, as a significant proportion of its fleet has become inoperable in recent months and are non-serviceable due to continued maintenance problems.

The Army, which reluctantly inducted 124 tanks from 2009, after the UPA government insisted that a token number have to be ordered to keep the tank development programme viable, has of late been having quality problems with the fleet.
The defence minister has been apprised of the issue. Sources said that the Army’s opinion is that while a large number of tanks are not operational due to technical defects, the fleet as such is not combat worthy due to reliability issues. “A number of tanks are not operational currently as transfer of technology (ToT) of several imported systems fitted onboard has not been done,” an Army official said.

The Army is surprised that quality issues have started arising even though the entire fleet came into service as recently as 2013 when deliveries ended. Given that the tanks are highly dependent on foreign equipment — 60% of the tank is imported — the failure to get maintenance technology means that the systems have to be sent abroad for even minor repairs.

It is believed that a meeting on the low serviceability rate of the Arjun fleet was conducted at South Block recently and Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is aware of the problems. The Army has identified 96 problems, including 18 major ones. The minister has been keen to increase the efficiency of existing platforms available with the military given that there is a paucity of funds to procure new systems.

In IAF, he has personally intervened to ensure that the availability rate of the Su 30 fleet improves by at least 10%. A similar approach is being taken for the Army too. DRDO is, meanwhile, working on the development of a successor in the form of the Arjun Mk II.

Source: The Economic Times

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Bharat Forge and Punj Lloydhave emerged as the only contenders for a Rs 16,800-crore mega contract to replace the ageing anti-aircraft guns of the Indian Army.
·  ·  ·  ·  Bharat Forge and Punj Lloydhave emerged as the only contenders for a Rs 16,800-crore mega contract to replace the ageing anti-aircraft guns of the Indian Army.

With the defence ministry looking to go ahead with trials and field tests to pick the winner, the two private companies are set to compete for one of the largest army projects under the ‘Make in India’ programme.

The project — involving manufacturing of 1,102 air defence guns over the next 15 years to replace the vintage L70/ZU 23 that have been in service for decades — promises to establish the winner of the contract as amajor defence player in the private sector given that no state-run company, including the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), is competing for the contract.

The two domestic companies were shortlisted after responses to a tender were received under the ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’ category earlier this year, people familiar with the matter said. In the first stage, the manufacturer will have to supply the army with 428 guns over the next five years. The mega contract also involves churning out several lakh rounds of ammunition in India.

However, a long process lies ahead, including extensive field tests for accuracy and reliability, quality checks and scrutiny of the finances of the competitors. In the past, it has taken two-three years to select a winning bid in such contracts.

This will be a pilot project under the Make in India programme for the army.

Bharat Forge has invested heavily in setting up a plant to manufacture artillery systems. The group has bought not only an artillery factory from Swiss firm RUAG and set it up in India but also purchased technology from an Austrian gun manufacturer to jumpstart its entry into the defence manufacturing sector.

For Punj Lloyd, the project provides an opportunity to enter the major league of defence manufacturing, with top executives saying that the company’s investment in a manufacturing facility at Malanpur has paid off.

The army’s efforts to replace the ageing anti-aircraft guns for the army were muddied in 2012 after the leading manufacturer Rheinmetall Air Defense was banned on corruption charges. The German company was the lead contender for the contract but was barred from operating from India after it was indicted in the OFB scandal.

Source: The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: The armed forces’ quest for new helicopters has seen controversies, scams and scrapping of tenders, much like the lingering Bofors ghost not allowing the induction of any new artillery howitzer in the Army for the last 30 years.

In a bid to break the jinx, the Centre is set to kick off the hunt for over 100 new-generation naval utility helicopters (NUH), which will replace the obsolete Chetak helicopters in the Navy, in a ‘Make in India’ project with foreign collaboration for over $2 billion.

Eleven Indian private sector companies, ranging from Tata Advanced Systems, Bharat Forge, Mahindra Aerospace to Reliance Defence & Aerospace and L&T, have already responded with proposed joint ventures revolving around three foreign helicopters – AS565 MBe of Airbus, Bell Helicopters-429 and Super Lynx 300 of AgustaWestland.

With the armed forces planning to induct well over 1,000 helicopters of different types in the next 10-15 years, the Indian private sector eyes a big business opportunity in the country’s aerospace sector, which has largely been domestic PSU Hindustan Aeronautics’ preserve so far.

“The formal tender for the over 100 NUH is now being vetted before issuance. The project will give a fillip to the ‘Make in India’ initiative in the aerospace industry, with transfer of technology in niche areas not available here till now,” said a source.

Though the Army and IAF also require 384 light-utility helicopters, the NUH is different since it needs wheeled landing gear, sea optimization, foldable blades and small dimensions to ensure it can fit into warship hangars. The capability for anti-submarine warfare with torpedoes and missiles is also required.

But like the Army-IAF case, the Navy’s earlier tender for importing 56 NUH was cancelled to ensure the project becomes a ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ venture.

In August last year, soon after the Modi government came to power, the defence ministry had scrapped the long-pending acquisition of 197 light-utility helicopters for Army-IAF from abroad due to irregularities.

Along with HAL’s ongoing project to build 187 light helicopters, which was sanctioned in February 2009, the ministry of defence decided all the 197 choppers would also be made in India with foreign collaboration.

Officials, in fact, say the ‘Buy & Make (Indian)’ categorization of the light-utility helicopters has the potential to give Rs 40,000 crore worth of business to the domestic industry.

However, the decision also means the military’s already long wait to replace their obsolete Cheetah/Chetak helicopters, used even in high-altitude areas like Siachen, will take several more years to materialize now.

Source: The Times of India

In an explosive revelation, a report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence has stated that in case of war, the Indian Army will take “more than a day to reach” the crucial Tawang area of Arunachal Pradesh due to a “critical situation” regarding border road infrastructure, while “our neighbouring countries” (like China) can “reach the borders within two to three hours”.

China covets Arunachal Pradesh, especially the Tawang area within Arunachal and refers to the state as “south Tibet”. This is probably the first time that the vulnerability of the Indian Army —to protect Tawang in case of a war against the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) —has been accepted.

“The Committee are dismayed to note that in Tawang area, the situation is very critical as connectivity is concerned. In case of war, the Army cannot reach there in a day. This is a matter of great concern with regard to our defence preparedness,” the Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence has stated, in a report submitted to Parliament on Monday.

The revelation was made during the concluding remarks by the committee on activities of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which is now under the ministry of defence (MoD) and tasked with the construction of border roads.

In other reports submitted to Parliament, the Committee also mentioned how the slow pace of acquisitions has had an adverse impact on operational preparedness of the armed forces. In an important recommendation, the Parliamentary Committee said Capital expenditure and allocation for the armed forces should be “non-lapsable and (on) roll-on allocation (basis)” for the armed forces between financial years so that crucial acquisition of weapons and equipment is not delayed.

Source: DC

According to Ministry of defence, (MOD) Press Release ‘Ghatak’ assault rifle (7.62X39mm) developed by Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) has been cleared by Paramilitary forces. ‘Ghatak’ assault rifle (AR) has met all the technical parameters of General Staff Qualitative Requirements (GSQRs) issued by Paramilitary forces which fall under Ministry of Home affairs.

Final User trails of ‘Ghatak’ assault rifle (AR) was found satisfactory by Paramilitary forces and Ministry of Home affairs likely will place first batch order of 3000 rifles with Rifle Factory Ishapore (RFI) soon.

The rifle which weighs 3.65 kg (without magazine) can hold 30 rounds in its magazine, which can be fired at Single shot or in Automatic mode and rate of fire is 600 rounds per minute. ‘Ghatak’ assault rifle (AR) is also been evaluated by Indian Army for its Ghatak Commando forces. which as requirements for new Assualt rifles.

SOURCE: IDRW NEWS NETWORK (INN)

NEW DELHI: The mega Rs 12,000 crore pilot project for the Indian private industry to manufacture military transport aircraft is set to get bigger with the Coast Guard adding its requirement for new patrol aircraft to the plan.

ET has learnt that the Avro replacement programme, for which the Tata-Airbus combine is the frontrunner, will be expanded to add the Rs 5,500-crore Coast Guard requirement for a Multi Mission Maritime Aircraft (MMMA).

Sources said that the Coast Guard has initiated its requirement for six new aircraft for sea reconnaissance to be developed by DRDO and is requesting the defence ministry to club it with the ongoing programme to replace the Avro transport fleet of the air force.

This would give a fillip to the Avro replacement programme that is currently stuck as the ministry is yet to take a view on whether to go ahead with negotiations with the Tata-Airbus combine that has emerged as the single bidder.

The total value of this contract is now overRs 17,500 crore for a total of 62 aircraft. Further additions to this number are not being ruled out as the Navy too could have similar requirements.

While it is still unclear how the addition would affect the ongoing process to replace the Avro fleet, sources said that the views of the Gokhale committee that was set up by the Defence Minister to review the project has come in. It is believed that while the report does not have a negative view on taking forward the contract with a single vendor, there is room for ambiguity that will now require a political call by South Block.

Much like the Rafale purchase that required intervention from the top leadership to take forward the procurement, a definite political direction will be vital for the Avro replacement that can go either ways on the basis of the Gokhale committee report.

In the meantime, other competitors, including an Italian and Ukrainian firm have also written to the Defence Ministry, expressing their interest in the project in a bit to pip the Airbus-Tata consortium that is offering the C295 medium transport airlifter.
Source: The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: This is one ‘Make in India’ defence project that is now finally booming. The desi howitzer, christened Dhanush, can outgun the original Swedish Bofors 155mm artillery gun in range, accuracy, reliability, angle of fire and shoot-and-scoot capabilities.

The Army is now getting set to induct the first battery of six Dhanush guns, which will be the first 155mm howitzers to be acquired by the force since the infamous Bofors scandal torpedoed all its artillery modernisation plans in the mid-1980s.

Recurring scandals in artillery procurement projects kept it derailed thereafter, with the infamous Bofors ghost looming large over attempts to plug the Army’s operational gaps in long-range, high volume firepower.

Ironically enough, it’s the original Bofors gun that came to the rescue of the beleaguered force. The Army-DRDO-OFB team kicked off work on the long-forgotten original designs, obtained under transfer of technology provisions in the infamous Rs 1,437 crore Bofors contract of 1986, a few years ago. It has led to the electronically upgraded Dhanush howitzer now.

Source:TNN

The Ministry of Defence has formed a core group to iron out the wrinkles and put a clear policy framework for defence procurement procedures under the Make-in-India initiative.

The group will submit final solutions on bottleneck issues by June-end, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar has said.A part of the group’s brief is to help launch a website listing components and products that will be blocked for import and be sourced indigenously.

Parriker was speaking in Pune at the ‘Make-in-India for Defence’ seminar organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry on Saturday.

“Yesterday, I have formed a core group, which is expected to give its findings on various issues haunting the DPP and many other aspects of defence procurement, and are probably bottlenecks for the make-in-India in defence.”

The Ministry had already identified most of the issues for procurement and done 90 per cent of the work. “The committee will now scrutinise these, add some points, talk to industry and stakeholders for the final time and give us final solutions by June-end,” he said.

On the proposed website, Parriker said, “We will put up different types of categorised products from complete products to spare parts, defining the value and quantum required for the next five years.”

Anyone selected for manufacture, and who could successfully make the prototype, will be guaranteed five years’ minimum orders, after which the manufacturer will have to compete.

“It can be a gun or a small component like a rivet,” he said, observing that he was disturbed that HAL was importing rivets required for its planes.

Source: The Hindu

NEW DELHI: Indian Air Force has initiated a proposal to purchase three more Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft from the US for about Rs 8,700 crore, impressed as it is by the cargo carrier’s varied utility that includes carrying out of large-scale humanitarian assistance operations such as the ongoing relief effort in earthquake-hit Nepal.

The IAF has told the government that it wants to add three very heavy transport aircraft to its fleet of 10 C-17s that were ordered in 2011 and inducted in 2013, officials said.

The IAF has pressed the case for three more C-17s after being informed that only five of the heavy lift aircraft are left for sale as the US defence and aerospace firm has closed down the production line, officials said.

As per the 2011 contract, which was worth $4.7 billion, India had an option clause to purchase six additional C-17s over its order of 10 aircraft. However, a paucity of funds that hit the government in the past two years appears to be responsible for the scaled-down requirement assessment. The proposal will have to be approved by the Manohar Parrikar-led Defence Acquisition Committee.

Once signed, Boeing will be liable to invest Rs 2,600 crore in the Indian defence manufacturing sector as per the standard offsets rule of the defence ministry. C-17 has proved its utility, which has used the aircraft in several rescue operations including evacuation of thousands of Indian citizens and others in Yemen.

Source: Defence News

NEW DELHI: The government has asked the CBI whether blacklisted chopper maker AgustaWestland can take part in its ‘Make in India’ initiative, potentially the first step in the Anglo-Italian firm’s likely rehabilitation after being put in doghouse by the UPA regime amid allegations of bribery.

A no-objection from the CBI could enable AgustaWestland to participate in future government tenders besides providing yet another glimpse into the Modi government’s different approach from its predecessor in defence acquisitions.

A CBI spokesperson confirmed to ET that the agency, whose go-ahead will be crucial in okaying renewed business contacts between the company and the government, had received a letter from the defence ministry asking if AgustaWestland could participate in its Make in India initiative.

“We have received MoD’s letter and the same is being examined,” CBI spokesperson Kanchan Prasad told ET. The defence ministry did not respond to ET’s queries.

Company ready to transfer technology

This is a hugely significant move as it indicates this government’s resolve that investigations into alleged defence scandals will not necessarily stop acquisitions. CBI’s go-ahead will be crucial in okaying renewed business contacts with AgustaWestland.

Officials say while the earlier AW deal was for VVIP choppers, this time the interest is in army and navy choppers. If cleared, AW will be one of many bidders for the deal. Replying to ET’s email, AW said it is a “strong supporter of the ‘Make in India’ initiative” and that “the company is ready to transfer technology to India”.

Senior government officials, who did not want to be quoted, said MoD’s communication to CBI happened in the first week of April. Investigators familiar with the matter told ET that CBI is considering whether some executives, not the company as an entity itself, were involved in unethical practices. “No final view has been taken,” an investigator said, adding that the money trail was still being investigated and replies to the agency’s letters rogatory are still awaited. A letter rogatory is a fo ..

The AgustaWestland case is being heard in Italian courts. ET reported on April 17 that the current MoD is in the process of setting aside the UPA policy of stalling a deal on receipt of any complaint. Senior officials told ET that the defence ministry’s letter to CBI on AgustaWestland mentions the Italian firm’s keenness in sharing technology and expertise under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

MoD had sought to know the status of CBI investigations and the specific role the company as an entity had in the alleged corruption case.

Source: The Economic Times