Archive for August, 2015

WELLINGTON: The US today said it is working with India to improve counter-terrorism cooperation as it stressed on the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), ‘D-Company’ and the Haqqani Network.

Noting that US and India have committed to making counter-terrorism cooperation a key component of bilateral ties, US Ambassador to India Richard Verma said that in recent years his country has led a global coalition to “degrade, disrupt and dismantle” terrorist groups like al-Qaeda and ISIL.

“President Obama and Prime Minister Modi have also called for eliminating terrorist safe havens and infrastructure, disrupting terrorist networks and their financing, and stopping their cross-border movement,” he said, speaking at the Defence Services Staff College here.

At the Defence Staff Service College, Verma held an interaction with faculty and students on ‘Emerging Indo-US Strategic Ties’. Accompanied by US Counsul General in Chennai Phillip Minh and US Air Attache Robert Capozella, the Ambassador also met two student officers from US Army and Navy who are undergoing the staff course at DSSC.

“Our leaders have also affirmed the need for joint and concerted efforts to disrupt and degrade entities such as LeT, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), D Company and the Haqqani Network, and agreed to continue ongoing efforts through the Homeland Security Dialogue and the US-India Joint Working Group on Counter Terrorism,” he said.

His comments came just two days after Pakistan called off NSA-level talks with India. India had prepared an extensive dossier on underworld don Dawood Ibrahim who is believed to be based in Karachi under the patronage of ISI.

Talking on the subject ‘Growing US-India defence cooperation’, he said both countries are also working on efforts to improve cooperation on UN terrorist designations and expand the sharing of information on known or suspected terrorists “no matter where they may be located”.

“Our counter-terrorism cooperation can become a model for the region and potentially for the world, and it is another factor that makes me genuinely optimistic about our future defence and security partnership together,” he said.

Verma stressed that US and India face a formidable set of international challenges, from the freedom of access to shared maritime and air routes, humanitarian crises in an increasingly interconnected world, and the continuing threat from non-state actors and extremist groups.

He made it clear that bilateral defence cooperation is not based on a limited set of strategic priorities, nor is it directed toward a particular country. Rather, it is rooted in our shared values.

He said that in today’s dynamic and globally connected world, a deeper understanding of the maritime domain and the readiness to protect critical trade routes has never been more important.

Verma said that through the Joint Working Group for Aircraft Carrier Technology, both countries have also forged a path that seeks to cooperatively improve India’s burgeoning aircraft carrier development programme and develop its carrier aviation expertise.

“This programme is one of the success stories borne of our Defence Technology and Trade Initiative, and is also symbolic of how far US-India defence cooperation has advanced as it wasn’t too long ago that the American aircraft carrier was a symbol that divided the US from India,” he said.

“Today it is a topic of cooperation that has brought us closer together,” the US envoy underlined.

He said that both countries are also working to enhance cooperation and security of the skies.

“We recently did an exchange on air defence where our two Air Forces brought together their experts to share best practices and ideas on defending critical areas like the skies over our national capitals,” he said, adding that it is through training and exercising together that one can practice these and other shared tactics, to hone skills.

The Indian Air Force will be participating in Red Flag air exercise next April, an event that Indian Air Force is taking part in after a six-year hiatus.

“However, it is not just well trained pilots and well- executed tactics and procedures that will ensure the security of the skies. To both our Air Forces advanced technology is a critical component, which is why under the DTTI we have set up the Jet Engine Technology Joint Working Group, where we will jointly be exploring and sharing the latest technology on jet engines and exploring possible co-production and co-development opportunities together,” he said.

Source: ET

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NEW DELHI: Astra Microwave Products today said it will form a joint venture company with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defence Systems for production and supply of tactical radio communication, electronic warfare and signal intelligence systems.

The venture will commence with an expected investment of $20 million (approx Rs 133 crore) in the first two years.

“The company have signed a term sheet for formation of joint venture company (JV) with Rafael Advanced Defence Systems Ltd., Israel for joint production and supply of tactical radio communication systems, electronic war-fare systems and signal intelligence systems,” AstraBSE 2.07 % Microwave Products said in a BSE filing.

It further said: “The JV will operate from Hyderabad and is expected to start business development activities in the first half of 2016. About $20 million is expected to be invested in the first two years in the JV.”

Astra Microwave Products said to start with Astra and Rafael will own 51:49 per cent stake in the JV and will become 50:50 subject to regulatory approvals.

In February this year, Kalyani Group and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd announced formation of a JV company in India to develop and produce high-end technology systems within the country, including a wide range of technologies and systems, like missile technology, Remote Weapon Systems and Advanced Armour Solutions.

Source: ET

 In a bid to build domestic capabilities in defence and to link defence production with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ campaign, India has relaxed its offset policy, exempting foreign firms from obligations, like declaration of Indian offset partners’ name, amount of FDI and value of equipment. Thus under the new deal, any foreign company will not have to declare name of its Indian partner. It can set up its factory in India under new offset rules without declaring FDI and value of machines installed there.

Under revised offset rules, vendors can give mandatory details at the time of offset credit. Defence secretary (procurement), not defence minister as in the previous offset policy, will be the final word on any changes within an offset proposal.

There is, however, no change in rules of offset amount, which mandates a foreign firm to invest 30 percent of the contract value in India. Defence economist at Institute for defence studies & analysis Laxman Behera told dna: “The amendment is welcome, but we need more comprehensive policy. India is perhaps the only major arms importing country that has a very modest offset percentage (30%). It should be raised to atleast 50 percent to ensure an enhancement flow of offsets to the Indian industry.”

A senior defence ministry official told dna that new defence procurement policy, likely to be in by the year-end, is likely to change offset amount limit of 30 percent. A 30 percent offset is mandatory in import contacts valued Rs 300 crore or more. In 2005, India had announced its first offset policy.

India has recently signed 25 offset contracts worth $4.87 billion. There are 44 more contracts under various stages of procurement with a potential value of $15 billion for discharge until 2028. The Modi government had agreed to $20 billion dollar worth arms procurement deals. But half of these deals were in limbo due to strict offset policy. India is world’s top arms importer and struggling to make domestic capabilities more competitive and produce high-tech defence equipment through offset policy.

OFFSET POLICY AMENDMENT

Earlier
– Technical and commercial proposal to be submitted at the time of Request for Proposal
– Foreign firms to declare Indian offset partner
– Declare offset obligation i.e. how much amount via FDI, via technology transfer and via import of equipment

Now
– Vendor don’t require any of these to declare at the time of RFP
– Vendor can declare at the time of offset credit; but if found wrong, deal can be declared invalid and penalty imposed
– Vendor can also declare all these thing one year before offset obligation begins

Source: DNA India

Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Sartaj Aziz has accused India of acting like a regional superpower, saying it was imposing its agenda in violation of Ufa agreement that scuttled the NSA-level talks. He said Pakistan was not responsible for the cancellation of the first-ever NSA-level talks.

Aziz said that since taking over the government last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi considers India as regional power, forgetting that Pakistan is “nuclear power”.
“Modi’s India acts as if they are a regional superpower, but we are also a nuclear-armed country and we know how to defend ourselves,” Aziz was quoted as saying by the Dawn.

He said India wants talks on normalisation on its own terms by having discussion only on matters relating to trade and connectivity.

He said if Kashmir is not an issue then “why India has stationed 700,000 troops in occupied Kashmir”.

Aziz said the entire international community believes that Kashmir is a problem between the two countries which should be resolved.

“India should realise after the current episode that their tactics are not working,” Aziz said and asked India to hold a referendum in Kashmir to let people decide their fate.

Aziz said that Pakistan would not run from talks on terrorism as Pakistan as “we also have evidence of RAW’s involvement in fuelling terrorism in Pakistan.”

The talks were called off at last minute due to difference over Aziz’s planned meeting with separatist leaders and his intention to discuss Kashmir with counterpart.

Source: Defence News
HYDERABAD: Missile Complex Hyderabad which comprises Defence Research and Development Laboratory ( DRDL), the Advanced Systems Laboratory (ASL) and the Research Centre Imarat (RCI) will soon be renamed as ‘Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Missile Complex’, official sources said here today.

Defence Research and Development Organisation ( DRDO) sources told PTI that renaming of Missile Complex Hyderabad has already been approved.

“Creating RCI was perhaps the most satisfying experience of my life. Developing this centre of excellence of missile technology was akin to the joy of a potter shaping artifacts of lasting beauty from mundane clay,” Kalam had written in his autobiography ‘Wings of Fire’.

A bronze statue of Kalam, who had formulated the country’s Integrated Guided Missile Programme and propelled India towards emerging as a missile power, was unveiled earlier this month at the residential campus of RCI near the Faculty House where he used to stay.

Source: Defence News

There is an upswing in security clearances to Chinese companies to set up shop in India under the Narendra Modi government, a development that the Centre hopes will bring it strategic benefits by way of China “de-hyphenating” Pakistan on the international stage, official say.

Details with ET show that as many as 18 leading Chinese companies have been given clearances under the new government to either set up units in India or open their project or liaison offices. Among the recent clearances has been to China’s major power transmission company Baoding Tianwei Baobian Electric (TWBH) Ltd, which emerged as a successful bidder in various projects of the ministry of power and has a presence in Gujarat. In April, there were reports that this state-owned firm may default as it had not raised enough funds to make a bond interest payment.

Two other Chinese companies— Shandong Tiejun Electric Power Engineering Ltd and China Non-Ferrous Metal Industry’s Foreign Engineering and Construction Ltd (Hong Kong) were also been granted clearance last week by India to set up a project office and liaison office respectively in India.

A new ‘national security clearance policy’ approved by the Centre in June eased the investment regime for foreign companies, including those from China, after Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised the same during his trip to China in May.

A major clearance given was on July 8 to Chinese telecom giant, Huawei to set up a unit for electronics/telecom hardware and support services including trading and logistics activities at SIPCOT Special Economic Zone, Sriperumbudur in Tamil Nadu – a proposal pending with the ministry of commerce and industries since 2013.
“India hopes that by opening its doors to Chinese companies, the country will have a far more neutral approach on the international stage when it comes to India’s concerns regarding Pakistan – especially in light of China’s recent attempts at UN and FATF,” a senior government official told ET.

Details with ET show that other Chinese companies allowed to set up their offices in India since April include Xian Electrical Engineering Ltd, Hejian Solidkey Petroleum Machinery Ltd and Fully Sun China Limited (Hong Kong). Daqing Construction and Installation Group Ltd and International Energy Technology Service Ltd were cleared to open a project office in Gurgaon earlier this year while TBEA Shenyang Transformer Group Ltd of China was allowed to execute its contracts through its existing Project office in India.

TBEA, a Xinjiang-based manufacturer has plans to invest in a manufacturing facility in Gujarat.

Source: ET

NEW DELHI: A formal list of defence items that can be exported has been endorsed by the ministry of defence, bringing India at par with international laws governing arms trade. The move – which identifies 16 broad categories of products that can be exported after clearance – is expected to boost military trade with experts saying that it brings clarity to private companies pursuing export orders.

A military stores list, which was drawn up by the directorate general of foreign trade, has been given a go-ahead by South Block, with a new set of rules being framed to manage export clearances. What the list gives is an indication of what India wishes to export in the coming years, after it joins the Wassenaar arrangement, the international export control regime for arms.

Among the items listed in the Indian military stores list are warships, tanks, armoured vehicles, ammunition, rifles and small arms, military training equipment, electronic warfare devices, software, bombs and torpedoes.

As reported by ET, the defence ministry has also relaxed earlier export control laws that require multiple end-user certificates by Indian companies wishing to export components and parts of larger systems. The two things combined, experts says, will go a long way in boosting foreign trade for Indian private companies.

Defence Exports

“To enhance strategic exports the authorities have taken two broad steps in one go. The adoption of the military stores list brings our export control regime in consonance with international laws, whilst the non-requirement of an ultimate end-user certificate for components significantly reduces the chance of a domestic company having to lose out on becoming a part of an OEMs global supply chain,” Ankur Gupta of Ernst and Young India told ET.

While India is hopeful of joining two international regimes this year — the Wassenaar arrangement and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) — after which exports will get a boost, DRDO has already drawn up a list of products that it wishes to sell abroad.

This includes the Akash surface to air missile system, Sonar systems, underwater communication systems, the Tejas fighter aircraft, Airborne Early Warning and Control systems, the Nishant UAV and a series of radars, among other things.

Indian private companies are already exporting items but this is still a trickle of their true potential. Tata Advanced Systems Limited makes components and parts for Lockheed Martin, Sikorsky and Pilatus. A small company like Kineco makes composite consoles for Boeing while Bengaluru-based Dynamatics counts Boeing, Bell and Airbus as its clients.

Source:ET

CBI, ED red flag AgustaWestland’s participation in Make In India
The CBI and the Enforcement Directorate have raised concerns about Italian defence group Finmeccanica’s unit AgustaWestland with the defence ministry after the company evinced interest in participating in Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate have raised concerns about Italian defence group Finmeccanica’s unit AgustaWestland with the defence ministry after the company evinced interest in participating in Narendra Modi government’s ‘Make in India’ initiative.

AgustaWestland is under the scanner for allegations that it paid bribes to swing a helicopter deal with India. In a recent communication to the ministry, the company conveyed its keenness to participate in the government’s drive to boost domestic production, and cited an Italian court order that clears it of charges in the helicopter deal. After receiving AgustaWestland’s communication, the ministry had asked the two agencies for updates in the case.

The ED, which is probing allegations of money laundering against AgustaWestland, informed the ministry that investigations are in “advanced” stages and they are in the process of sending letters rogatory (LRs) to Switzerland and the United Kingdom in the matter. Earlier, the ED had sent LRs to Italy and Tunisia in a bid to unearth the money trail in the multi-crore deal.

ET had reported on April 23 that the ministry has sought responses from the CBI and ED on the communication from Agusta Westland. In its communication, the ED also informed that properties worth Rs 1.12 croree belonging to one of the middlemen, Christian Michel, have been attached under Prevention of Money Laundering Act and that they are in the process of identifying more bank accounts and properties.

The CBI, too, has indicated that the probe against the company is still on and the replies of the LR are awaited. The agency has refrained from sharing with the ministry “specific” details of its investigation.

Source: ET

Govt rolls out plan to make top-notch Military Hardware in India
                                                                                                                  Monday, August 17, 2015

By : Tribune News Service

In what will lay the guidelines for indigenisation of military hardware, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) last month announced a 15-year plan to produce hi-tech naval equipment in India aimed at doing away with costly imports and dependence on foreign suppliers.

In what will lay the guidelines for indigenisation of military hardware, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) last month announced a 15-year plan to produce hi-tech naval equipment in India aimed at doing away with costly imports and dependence on foreign suppliers.

Called the Indian Naval Indigenisation Plan (INIP) 2015-2030, it entails an exhaustive list of 46 kinds of equipment used in naval warships, submarines, planes, helicopters, underwater and air-borne surveillance systems.

“Now, the list of items is known to the Indian industry and also to the MoD-owned public sector companies. They can make long-term plans with the surety of purchase, if they produce it right and the best,” an official said.

The list lays down what will now be produced in India and not allowed to be imported. This includes multi-role helicopters, surface-to-air-missiles, early warning radars, underwater unmanned vehicles, diesel engines for warships, gas turbines, an air independent propulsion (allows submarines to stay submerged for longer periods), satellite communication system, torpedoes, night vision and advanced optics for naval pilots, towed sonars carried by warships to detect underwater submarines.

In the past, some progress has been made in these categories. “It is not an easy task but a beginning has to be made,” an official said. A source cited an example saying engines of all warships are imported, while even the major overhaul of older generation planes is being carried out in Russia. The MoD recently ordered towed array sonars from a European firm for its warships after Chinese submarines started making forays into the Indian ocean, but these could be last.

Announcing the plan, the MoD was candid that the sector has been opened for the private enterprises. “Industry, including the private sector, can play a vital role in meeting sophisticated needs of the armed forces through cost-effective utilisation of its know-how and existing infrastructure,” a brief on the plan said.

The “15-year Indigenisation Plan” was first prepared and promulgated in 2003 in keeping with the induction plan of new platforms. This plan is reviewed every five years, with the last revision undertaken in 2008.

The ‘INIP 2015-2030’ is aimed at enabling the development of equipment and systems through the DRDO and the Indian industry over a 15-year period. It formulates a structured process to develop systems by specifying technologies and broad requirements catering to new induction platforms in the Navy such as INS Vikramaditya, the Teg Class frigates, Fleet Tankers and Scorpene submarines.

In addition, the plan also caters to requirements of aviation and diving equipment for the first time. The Directorate of Indigenisation at Navy is the coordinating agency for all efforts. The office shall be working closely with industry associations such as CII, FICCI and Assocham, among others.

Source: Tribune news Service

  NEW DELHI: In a move that is likely to open up over $3.5 billion as investments into the Indian defence and aerospace manufacturing sector, the defence ministry has brought major retrospective changes in the offsets policy, giving foreign companies much more flexibility in choosing partners and allocating work shares.

In a new notification that applies to all defence contracts that had offset obligations — to invest at least 30 per cent of the contract value into the Indian defence manufacturing sector — the ministry has permitted foreign companies to change Indian partners with a minimal process.

While in the past, any changes in an offset work package — which was decided as many as three years in advance due to the painstaking procurement process — would have to be approved in multiple players and finally by the high powered Defence Acquisition Committee (DAC), the deciding authority has been now changed to the Secretary, Defence Production.

Even changes in the offset partner itself will now be approved at the Secretary level, negating a long drawn process earlier that would see files moving at snail’s pace of a few months if not years for changes. With the amendments, foreign companies will now be able to select partners and contracts at the ‘execution stage’, instead of a few years in advance.

“Both these amendments, with retrospective effect, should clear most bottlenecks in offset execution on the ground as well as spur high-technology work flowing into the country for the purpose of discharging offsets. OEMs will be far more comfortable in proposing work-packages, feeling comfortable that if required it is not an insurmountable task to change the same,” Ankur Gupta of Ernst and Young India told ET.

Industry experts say that a prime reason for a deadlocked offset policy — close to $4.5 billion of work has been signed under offsets since 2008 but and less than a quarter has actually been executed — was the requirement of providing detailed work-packages at the time of the submission of initial bids itself.

“The time gap between the signing of the contract and the freezing of offset work share could easily stretch to 2-4 years and by that time the requirements of the companies would change as technology evolves swiftly,” an industry insider said.

Source: ET