Archive for December, 2015

HUNT FOR NEW GEN ASSAULT RIFLESMixed results but upgraded INSAS not a replacement

When it comes to the Army , a modern, reliable assault rifle is the very basic ­ the primary weapon of an infantry soldier posted either on the border or deployed for counter militancy missions in the hinterland.However, despite a four year process to select a new generation rifle to replace the glitch prone Indian made INSAS, the Army is still not close to a viable option, with a new desi weapon being pushed by DRDO getting mixed reviews during ongoing user trials.

With the INSAS rifle ­ developed by DRDO and introduced in service in 1996 ­ not adequately meeting its requirements, the Army started the search for a new basic weapon in 2011. The contract was cancelled earlier this year ­ contenders failed to meet the stringent requirements ­ and a new variant of the INSAS, called the Excalibur, was fielded by DRDO.

The new rifle is being tested presently by the Army at two locations, with trials now at the final stage and results expected by February . However, several officials that ET spoke with say that the results till now have been mixed, with one team finding the ri fle inadequate and the other seeing it as an improvement over the INSAS.

While the final results will take a few more weeks to come in, Army officials say that while the Excalibur would be an improvement over the INSAS, it would at best be a replacement rifle. “The Excalibur is an upgraded version of the INSAS, it is not a new rifle but the older weapon has been given additional features,“ a senior Army officer said.

But on the Army’s parameters for a futuristic assault rifle, the Excalibur fails to make the cut. “It is at best a replacement for the INSAS rifles in service but for a future weapon, the rifle simply does not have the technical qualities,“ another officer told ET.

The Army is in urgent need to get a replacement for the INSAS but is also keen to get a world class product.Army officials have told ET that the ideal process would involve a fair competition in which the Excalibur also takes part to determine the best weapon systems suited for the Indian combat environment.

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The Defence ministry has decided that Tata Advanced Materials and MKU, the two Indian contenders shortlisted for supplying 50,000 bulletproof jackets, will supply 25,000 such jackets each. The decision is aimed at faster procurement of these jackets for jawans. The decision to choose Indian contenders to manufacture these jackets is being seen as a great push to the government’s Make In India initiative.

While the final contract is yet to be signed, ministry sources are hopeful that it will be signed “soon”. “The price bids for the project were opened two weeks ago. It has been decided that orders of 25,000 jackets each will be placed with Tatas and MKU. The contracts shall be finalised soon,” said an MoD official.

SOURCE: EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE

The government is progressively tweaking the defence offsets policy to provide “greater flexibility“ to foreign armament firms, with offset obligations of around $5 billion slated for “discharge“ over the next seven to eight years.The ministry of defence (MoD) on Wednesday said the measures ranged from restoration of “services“ as an eligible offset investment, to allowing foreign firms to change their Indian partners at any time. The MoD in July 2005 had come out with the offsets policy to develop the indigenous defence industrial base (DIB), making it mandatory for any foreign firm bagging an arms deal over Rs 300 crore to plough back at least 30% of the contract value back into India as offsets.

But the policy has not been very successful till now, with the national audit watchdog CAG itself holding that self-reliance in defence production had not been strengthened in any major way . India still continues to buy almost 70% of its military requirements from abroad, regularly featuring as the world’s biggest arms importer. With the country’s fledgling DIB being incapable of absorbing the huge offsets, MoD had earlier liberalised the offsets policy to include investments in the civil aerospace, homeland security and training sectors as well.

“Services“ like maintenance and repair, software and technology transfer also now figure in the list. “The defence procurement procedure (DPP) does have a provision for foreign manufacturers to discharge their offset obligations through services,“ said the official.

“But this provision was kept in abeyance since May 2013 due to the absence of any regulatory oversight mechanism. Based on several interactions and inputs received from the industry , most of the `services’ earlier kept in abeyance have now been reinstated with checks and balances,“ he added.

At the post-contract stage, enabling provisions have been made in the guidelines for change in IOPcomponent and re-phasing of the offsets schedule to give “complete flexibility“ to the vendor. “The standard operating procedure will now make it possible to address requests from vendors to change their IOP or their offset component as per requirement,“ he added.

PAC slams Centre over delay in warship building

Slamming the huge cost and time overruns in the indigenous construction of warships, the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC) has asked the government to revamp the management of projects and take punitive action against officials responsible for delays, irregularities and preparing inaccurate estimates. This comes at a time when the Navy has 47 warships under construction for over Rs 3 lakh crore in different domestic shipyards, with the eventual aim to become a 198-warship and 600-aircraft force by 2027, as reported earlier by TOI. TNN

Source: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: Aiming to create homegrown private sector giants to take on global competition, the Manohar Parrikar led defence ministry will for the first time identify ‘strategic partners’ for major defence manufacturing projects, going ahead with a new, radical model for procurement.

 

Top Defence Ministry officials have told ET that concerns by smaller companies and new entrants to the defence sector are ill founded and that the government is going ahead with the ‘strategic partnership’ model that will identify a handful of Indian companies for major projects worth over Rs 10,000 crore that require a national effort to execute.

 

Making it clear that the strategic partnership model will be central to the defence procurement policy that is expected to be made public early next month, a senior official said that new entrants will also get opportunity to participate in the big defence projects as component manufacturers and suppliers.

 

The strategic partnership model is a tectonic shift in defence acquisition procedures which will make the government a key investor into major private sector contracts, giving it control of the developmental project and ensuring delivery.

 

A defence ministry sanctioned task force, led by former DRDO Chief VK Aatre, has finalized a selection criteria for the ‘strategic partners’ that will be given key defence projects like aircraft manufacturing, warship production, armoured fighting vehicles and complex weapons systems under the Make in India initiative.

 

“There is consensus within the government that the partnership mode is the only way ahead if we have to create a robust private sector that can stand on its feet and take on competition in the coming years. This is a whole new way of procurement,” a senior official told ET.

 

Unlike in the past where private companies would compete with commercial bids and technical proposals for a project, under the new model a particular company will be selected for a big project, for example to manufacture a new line of conventional submarines for the Navy under the P 75 I plan.

 

The government will select the company based on financial and technical parameters suggested by the Aatre panel. The price for the contract will be determined after going through the company’s books by the defence ministry, leaving a reasonable profit for the private entity. This is a complete change from the past when companies would determine a fair price and bid for a contract.

 

Source ET

The much-awaited Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2015 is not going to be released before January, as the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is awaiting the report of a task force on the selection of strategic partners for defence projects. “The task force report is expected by January 15. And its recommendations will be crucial for the DPP.

“So we can expect the new DPP to be out only by late January, once all the recommendations of the task force have been studied, analysed and appropriately inducted in the DPP,” a top official toldBusinessLine.

The revised DPP, which lays down the norms for capital procurement of defence weapons and equipments, was initially expected to be released in May.

The task force, headed by VK Aatre, former scientific adviser to Defence Minister, has been entrusted with laying down rules for the selection of strategic partners in the private sector in long-term defence projects. This was constituted in September.

Make in India

It was set up in line with the recommendations on DPP 2015 made by the Dhirendra Singh committee.

The committee had recommended the creation of a strategic partnership model that will seek to create capacity within the private sector under the ‘Make in India’ scheme to manufacture aircrafts, helicopters, warships, submarines and missiles among others.

The task force will also prepare a draft agreement in which both the MoD and the private defence firm will be a party. Besides, it will prescribe a methodology for the selection of players by laying down specific parameters based on the selection criteria.

Raising indigenisation

On Monday, while launching a Make in India portal of the Department of Defence Production, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar had said the DPP is almost final and that it will be approved by the Defence Acquisition Council by the end of this month or early next month.

He also said the MoD is targeting 40 per cent of defence procurement under the Make in India initiative, from the current 30 per cent.

It aims to raise indigenisation to 70 per cent in five years.

The average annual value of total procurement of defence items from Indian as well as foreign sources in the last three fiscals (FY13 to FY15) for the Army, Air force and Navy stood at ?85,020 crore, of which about 62 per cent was sourced from domestic firms.

SOURCE: THE HINDU

India has sought from the US 100 latest unmanned aerial vehicles, both armed and surveillance versions, worth USD 2 billion to bolster its arsenal amid recurring incursions by Chinese troops. Industry sources familiar with New Delhi’s interest and ongoing talks between the two governments, said India had requested for the latest Avenger drones, which is basically an unmanned combat air vehicle, and is mainly being sought with an eye on China.

It has also sought Predator XP category which is a surveillance version for internal security issues and terrorist threats.

According to industry sources, India is looking for about 100 drones worth USD 2 billion.

However, while talks in this regard have accelerated in the past few months, the US has not made any formal commitment or given a public indication pending India’s application to joining Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR).

Italy, which is upset with New Delhi’s treatment of its marines, appears to have currently blocked India becoming a member of MTCR.

However, both Indian and US officials are confident that they would be able to get through the last hurdle in the next few months, thus making them possible to take the defence trade – which would include armed drones – to the next level.

“Yes, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI) is aware of India’s interest in Predator-series Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA),” Vivek Lall, chief executive of the US and International Strategic Development of General Atomics told PTI.

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems produces Predator series of remotely piloted aircraft.

“Due to US export laws, the US government has to approve the export of a Predator-series RPA to the Indian government. GA-ASI remains very encouraged by the recent India-US bilateral engagements at the highest levels and we are hopeful that we can play an important supporting role in these discussions,” he said.

“Predator-series RPA could provide a world-class Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) capability for India which would include both high-definition radar and Electro-optical/Infrared (EO/IR) coverage along India’s borders,” Lall said in response to a question.

Additionally, the RPA can perform humanitarian aid/disaster relief surveillance over both land and sea, said Lall, who had previously played a key role in US sale of high tech military assets to India during his stint at Boeing.

SOURCE: PTI

The much-awaited Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP), which is expected to streamline procurement of defence hardware and give a push to indigenisation, is likely to be approved by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) in the first week of January.

“DPP is almost final. By end of December or first week of January the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) should be approving it. We have taken recommendations from the Dherendra committee,” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Monday. He was speaking after formally launching the ‘Make in India’ portal of the department of defence production which will function as an interface between the government and the defence industry and will be a one-stop shop for all queries on defence procurement.

Addressing a long term demand of the private sector, the portal has a list of facilities of the armed forces and other institutions which are available to the industry for carrying out test trials of the equipment they have developed.

The committee appointed under former home secretary Dhirendra Singh should suggest recommendations to promote private sector participation and push forward ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector. It has suggested at least 40 per cent indigenous content in the ‘Buy Indian’ category of the DPP which was earlier at 30 per cent.

There has been some debate within the Ministry if 40 per cent can be executed. Putting those doubts to rest, Mr. Parrikar said that they would go ahead with that as the domestic content has to be increased to promote indigenisation. “If we don’t take such measures, it will not happen.”

Stating that achieving the target of 70 per cent indigenisation is tough but not impossible, Mr. Parrikar said that the government is trying to increase it from the current 30 per cent to 40 per cent in about five years time. “Lot of problems are faced because of mind-sets. We are trying to change that in the Ministry. We have made a lot of progress,” he added.

Source: The Hindu

NEW DELHI: In a major political push to the private defence manufacturing sector, the government has opened up its testing facilities and military ranges across the nation for use by companies developing systems for the armed forces.

abc.JPG

The change in policy is being seen as a game changer for indigenous research and development, given that in the past private players had to send equipment abroad for testing and certification, resulting in time and cost escalations.

Dozens of facilities across the nation – from the air force’s weapon testing ranges to laboratories of PSUs that can test tensile strength of material – are now available with the defence ministry issuing a new Standing Operating Procedure (SOP).

Laboratories and ranges across organizations like the DRDO, the three armed forces, Defence PSUs will be available after an application process that will involve vetting the finances and background of the private entity and ensuring secrecy for the military establishments.

Military units have already starting listing testing facilities that have been opened up, along with the process to apply and costs involved. “There is no precedence of private sector entities utilising IAF facilities for testing their equipment… would boost the indigenous aviation defence industry thereby reducing dependence on foreign suppliers,” an air force note on the new policy accessed by ET reads.

 

This is a major shift from the past as no avenue existed for the testing and evaluation of products developed by the industry. “This will help the Industry to get solutions tested in India instead of sending them abroad, saving both time and money. Testing and validation are imperative for research and development,” Neeraj Gupta, Managing Director of homegrown military manufacturer MKU Pvt. Ltd told ET.

 

The lack of Indian testing facilities had also added significantly to the costs of developing new systems. In the case of an artillery gun developer for example, it took over an year to use an Army range for tests. Other companies, including a major producer of bullet proof materials regularly used European facilities for tests, increasing developmental costs. “By permitting the usage of existing govt. owned testing facilities, the development and prototyping cost of defence products will not only come down but also become faster,” Ankur Gupta of EY India said.

 

Among the facilities now available – on the condition that they are not being utilized for government run projects – are air to ground and small arms ranges, aircraft, helicopters, radars, naval dockyards and HAL laboratories.

 

Source :ET

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India attaches the highest importance to the strategic and privileged partnership with Russia and that he looked forward to his visit there in the near future for the annual summit with President Vladimir Putin.

He conveyed the views when he received Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Rogozin here.

 

“Prime Minister conveyed that India attached the highest importance to the strategic and privileged partnership with Russia,” a PMO statement said.

He said he looked forward to visit Russia in the near future for a productive and historic annual summit with President Putin and expressed confidence that it would raise bilateral relations between the two countries to a new level, the statement said.

Source: Defence News

NEW DELHI: In a major boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s push for Make in India, 81 licences have been given to manufacturers in the defence sector since September last year, while only 34 proposals for joint venture had come up since 2000 under successive UPA regimes.

 

In a written reply in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said since the launch of ‘Make in India’ initiative in September 2014, the Department of Industrial Policy &Promotion has issued 81 industrial licences to 61 companies for manufacture of various items for the defence sector. He also said 34 FDI proposals/joint ventures have been approved in the sector since 2000, both with Indian public and private sector companies.

In another reply, the minister informed the Rajya Sabha that over 61 per cent of the 65,591 crore defence contracts in 2014-15 went to Indian vendors while the rest were bagged by foreign players. “The expenditure on capital acquisition in respect of order placed with Indian vendors and foreign vendors for the period 2014-15 was 40,589.98 crore (61.89 per cent) and 24,992.36 crore (38.11 per cent), respectively,” Rao Inderjit Singh, said in written response to a question in Rajya Sabha.

During 2014-15 and the current year, contracts have been signed with foreign vendors for capital procurement of defence equipment such as missiles, simulators, helicopters, rockets and guns, the minister added. Information related to employment of Indians in such projects is not maintained by the department, he said. The minister said capital procurement of defence equipment is guided by Defence Procurement Procedure and the timelines given therein. The timelines are specifically prescribed in each contract.

Source: Defence News