It's been a while, but as they say, better late than never. We finally made some time to redesign our blog and soon we will have our own independent website. The blog helped us reach a huge audience and generate a lot of interest in this area. As a result, the format and (utility) of the blog seems overwhelmed, hence the transittion to the dedicated site. The URL for the new site and content will be disclosed soon. Till then, enjoy the blog and continue to contribute to our posts.
Indian Delegation Makes Secret Visit to Israel
A high-level Indian delegation on Dec. 24 completed a secret visit to Israel to discuss arms sales and the fight against terror, Haaretz newspaper reported in its online edition.
The delegation met Israel Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and the director general of his ministry, Amos Yaron, the paper said.
Last August, top Israeli military research official U.K. Atre said India and Israel were planning to produce a strategic ballistic missile together.
After decades of cold relations, India and Israel have established strong military ties, illustrated by New Delhi’s purchase of Israel’s Phalcon advanced air warning system.
The anti-ship version of the BrahMos missile, jointly developed by India and Russia, will be inducted in Indian warships from 2005, parliament was informed Thursday.
Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said some countries had shown an "interest in BrahMos, since a supersonic cruise missile is not available with any other country".
Eight tests of the anti-ship version of BrahMos had been conducted successfully. "Production is in progress for induction in the Indian Navy from 2005 onwards for many ship platforms," he said in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha.
"The authorised capital of the joint venture for development (of BrahMos) was $250 million. An inter-government agreement has been signed between India and Russia," he said.
"The missile development is a joint effort from design to production and marketing to Indian and Russian armed forces and to mutually agreed friendly countries."
India Tuesday successfully tested the land version of BrahMos for the first time at a range in Rajasthan.
The missile, which derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers in both countries, has a range of nearly 300 km. It carries a conventional warhead of 300 kg and can achieve speeds of up to 2.8 Mach or nearly three times the speed of sound.
India ready to counter Pakistani F16s with Indian made superior Sukhoi MK3
India and Russia have certified the latest Sukhoi fighter configuration, a leading defence weekly reported on Thursday. The new variant of Sukhoi — also known as MK3 model — differs from the earlier MKII models; Jane's Defence Weekly reported quoting Russian manufacturer NPK Irkut.
The MKII model can only serve as an interceptor while the MK3 can fire anti-ship and anti-radiation supersonic Kh-31A/P series and television-guided Kh-59 subsonic cruise missiles. The NO11M radar provides targeting for laser and television precision-guided missiles.
It allows the MKIII to engage two air targets simultaneously with the R-27 missile or four with the RW-AE missile. It can also engage one air and one ground target at a time while searching for threats. The Su-30MKIII will be built under licence at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd complex at Bangalore, with 140 platforms to be manufactured by 2017. The agreement has an overall value of $5billion, the report said. The certification follows delivery of four Su-30MKIII from NPK Irkut earlier this month. Six more are due by the year-end, fulfilling a series of contracts signed in 1996-1998. These contracts covered 18 Su-30Ks delivered between March 1997 and December 1999 and 32 Su-30MKIs to be delivered between July 2002 and January 2005.
A Russian official was quoted as saying that talks are under way concerning a mid-life upgradation of Su-30MKIs. This would involve integration of avionic systems being developed for the Indo-Russian fifth generation fighter, called the T-50 by Sukhoi, together with more powerful engines and an improved logistics system.
Originally launched as a long-range fighter with outstanding agility, since then, like its western counterpart, the F-15 Eagle, the Flanker has blossomed into an extra-class multi-role fighter aircraft.
F-15C pilots of the US Air Force's 19th Fighter Squadron, stationed in Elmendorf, had the opportunity to take a closer look at the capabilities of the Su-30K during a visit to India in February. During the air battles carried out as part of exercise “Cope India 2004” they apparently lost 90 percent of the engagements. Precise details of the scenarios used for training purposes are not known, but the factors stated to have been critical to the superiority of the Flanker are its agility combined with the long-range R-27ER/ET (NATO-Code: AA-10) air-to-air guided missile and the short-range AA-11 “Archer” missile, with its “round the corner” launch capability. Apparently the Eagle and Flanker mostly detected each other at the same distance.
Naturally these results come at just the right time for the US Air Force, as it calls for more money for the F/A-22 Raptor programme, and should therefore be treated with caution. Nevertheless they are yet another proof of the potential of the Flanker when flown by well-trained pilots and now that the shortcomings in the electronics have been eliminated through the installation of western systems or new Russian developments.
There has never been any doubt about the flying performance of the Su-27/Su-30, even if its spectacular displays at the Berlin, Paris and Farnborough air shows are already receding into the past. Thus, the Su-27 has, somewhat unfairly, receded from the spotlight here in Germany, even though Sukhoi has of late been just as active as ever in development and production.
When it comes to Sukhoi's efforts in the export area, the Russian arms agency, Rosoberonexport, is concentrating on the Asian market. After China, India is the biggest export customer for the Su-27 and Su-30. Its air force took delivery of a first batch of 18 two-seater Su-30K's back in 1997/98. First deliveries of the Su-30MKI, produced in Irkut and currently the most advanced variant of the Flanker, then followed in August 2002.
This aircraft has distinctive small canards in front of the main wings and boasts a new, digital fly-by-wire flight control system. Moreover, it was the first fighter in the world equipped with thrust vector nozzles to enter service. The nozzles on the Saturn (Lyulka) AL-31FP engine can be moved 32 degrees in the horizontal plane and 15 degrees in the vertical plane. The radar is the Phasotron N011M Bars, which uses passive electronic beam steering and, in the Mk3 version, is supported by Indian computers.
Otherwise, the equipment is international. Thales (formerly Sextant Avionique) is supplying the VEH3000 head-up display and the liquid-crystal cockpit displays, while Sagem is contributing the Totem navigation platform with laser gyro and GPS integration. Parts of the electronic warfare (EW) suite come from Israel.
Integration of these systems was not simple and resulted in significant programme slippage. Finally, on 26 November 2000 the first Su-30MKI (fuselage number 05) took off on its maiden flight in Irkut. After flight-testing with four prototypes, deliveries then commenced some 18 months later.
A ceremony to mark the entry into service of the first ten, “Phase I” standard Su-30MKI's took place at Lohegaon airbase, near Pune on 27 September 2002. Twelve further, “Phase II” aircraft followed in the autumn of 2003, and the remaining ten are to be delivered in the course of this year. The Su-30MKI's are to be flown by No. 20 Squadron (“Lightnings”) and No. 30 Squadron (“Rhinos”).
It is still planned to upgrade the 18 Su-30K's, which are in-service with No. 24 Squadron (“Hunting Hawks”) in Baksi-ka-Talab, to MKI standard. On top of this, on 28 December 2000 India signed a contract for the production under licence of up to 140 Su-30MKIs (although recently the talk is of only 120), plus engine and radar. Hindustan Aeronautics' Nasik factory received the first two parts kits for assembly in June. The Indian share of production is to gradually be increased. A production rate of ten Flankers per year is planned.
China, too, is building the Flanker under licence, at its aircraft factory in Shenyang. Under the designation of J-11 (Jian-11), up to 20 aircraft per year have been rolling out of the hangar since 1999, and to date between 70 and 80 planes have been delivered. About 60 to 70 percent of its components now come from domestic production. There are even plans to build a “WS-10A” derivative of the AL-31F engine under licence.
Whereas the Su-27SK is a single-seat fighter with limited air-to-ground capability, the Chinese two-seat, multi-role Su-30MKK boasts an extensive weapons arsenal that includes the air-to-surface Kh-59M and Kh-29T missiles, the anti-radar Kh-31P guided missile and laser-guided bombs such as the KAB-500/KAB-1500.
The airframe of the Su-30MKK, which is built in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, has been reinforced for a maximum take-off weight of 38,800kg. Its identifying features are the higher vertical stabiliser and the twin-wheeled nose gear. The cockpit is fitted with large colour displays, while the N001VE radar is supported by new computers and new software, which also permit use of the air-to-air R-77 (RVV-AE) guided missile.
China originally ordered 76 Su-30MKK's in two separate contracts, and these had all been delivered by 2003. On top of these are 24 Su-24MK2's for the Chinese navy. An initial batch of six aircraft was handed over in February, and apparently the other planes had all been delivered by August. The new version has the N001VEP as its radar, now enhanced to incorporate new operating modes for naval combat. It can also generate ground maps and is capable of guiding two air-to-air missiles at once onto different targets. The MK2's armaments have been supplemented to include the Kh-31A anti-ship guided missile.
Apparently China is currently negotiating for a further 24 Su-30MK2's plus an improved MK3 variant that would be fitted with an advanced fire control system and a new radar (either Zhuk MS or Bars). Apparently a prototype has been flying since the spring of 2004.
Another customer for the Su-30MK2 is Vietnam, which on 1 December 2003 placed an order worth $100 million for four aircraft plus a further eight options. Some months earlier, on 5 August 2003, Sukhoi had sold 18 Su-30MKM's to Malaysia in a contract worth around $900 million, which was signed in the presence of President Putin and Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. The Su-30MKM is a derivative of the Su-30MKI. Deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2006/2007.
Another prospect in Southeast Asia is Indonesia. Although a contract for eight aircraft was cancelled on 9 January 1998, another order was placed in April 2003, this time for two Su-27SK's and two twin-seat SU 30MK's. Following the training of 12 pilots from the Tentara Nasional Indonesia Angkatan Udara (the Indonesian national defence air force), all four aircraft were transported by An-124 to the Iswahyudi airbase on Java, where the 11th Squadron is stationed, on 27 August. Additional Flanker orders are expected, as the aim is to equip at least two squadrons.
Another prospective customer is Thailand. A government delegation visited Moscow in September to sound out the possibility of purchasing six Su-30's in exchange for 250,000 tonnes of chicken meat.
Meanwhile the Russian Air Force is taking delivery of “new” Su-27's – or rather, existing aircraft that have been upgraded to Su-27SM standard by the KnAAPO factory. The first five aircraft officially entered into service on 26 December 2003 at the combat training centre in Lipezk. Another seven are to be delivered before the end of the year.
The Su-27SM, which was given preference over the Su-30KN proposal from Irkut, had its maiden flight on 27 December 2002 in Komsomolsk-on-Amur, with test pilot Yevgeny Frolov at the controls. This builds on the systems in the Chinese Su-30MKK and, for example, has a glass cockpit. The N001M radar is supposed to be capable of detecting even hovering helicopters and has a range of 135km to 150km. It can identify hostile targets by their signatures. Armaments include the R-77 (RVV-AE) plus an extensive array of air-to-ground guided missiles.
As well as the Su-27SM, KnAAPO is continuing to work on the Su-27KUB, a naval version with a modified nose in which the crew sit next to each other. A prototype has been flying since 29 April 1999. In 2003, it was fitted with advanced Zhuk MSF radar for further trials, enabling it to also serve as the basis for a land-based fighter-bomber version.
However, this latter role is already performed by the Su-27IB (Su-32), built in Novosibirsk, in which the crews also sit next to each other. Development of this significantly modified variant dates back to the Soviet era. A first prototype flew on 13 April 1990, but progress since then has been very slow. However, the eighth aircraft (T10V-8) flew on 20 December 2003, now equipped with more modern systems. The older prototypes, T10V-4 to T10V-7, are to be upgraded accordingly, so that deliveries to the Russian Air Force can probably commence in 2005.
Sukhoi is apparently examining the Su-35BM as the next development step, although this variant has little in common with the previous Su-35 and its airframe is closer to the Su-27 (without canards). The most visible signs of progress are in the systems area, with glass cockpit displays, an Irbis radar and the Knibny EW system The aircraft is to be powered by the Saturn AL-41F1, which produces just under 140kN of thrust. Its weapon systems, which were shown on a Su-35BM model at the Dubai Air Show in December 2003, include the Onyx/Yakhont 3M55A anti-ship missile and the Ks-172, an air-to-air guided missile with an extremely long-range.
Thus, the Flanker family has by no means exhausted every possible avenue of development. It could still earn further valuable currency – money that would come in handy to fund development of the next fighter generation, on which Sukhoi is currently working.
US Army helicopters and F-16 jets made by American aviation major Lockheed Martin will be seen in action at the Aero India show to be held here Feb 9-13.
This will be the first time after Washington lifted its sanctions against New Delhi two years ago that the US Army has decided to participate in the International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition at the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Yelahanka on the outskirts of the city.
"The US Army has confirmed its participation in the bi-annual event. It will showcase its helicopters for static and flying display. The number of helicopters and variants will be known by next month," Air Commodore Satish Pal Singh told reporters here Friday.
"Lockheed Martin is bringing in one or two F-16 fighters for demonstrating its air prowess."
The US has stepped up efforts in recent months to pitch the F-16s and Bell 407 helicopters to the IAF, and the display of these aircraft at the prestigious Aero India show is being seen as part of that move.
Billed as one of the largest aero shows in South Asia, the five-day event will see about 200 firms from 25 countries displaying products and technologies in the military and commercial sectors.
"Till date, 78 aviation and aerospace firms from different countries have confirmed their presence at the event. By January-end, we will have a complete list of participants and the representative countries," Singh said at a preview of the event.
"Many firms will exhibit their products and expertise for promoting or marketing their wares, while some will bring in their aircraft, helicopters, transport planes and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for static and flying display."
Apart from the F-16s, Sukhois, MiG-29, MiG-21BIS and transport planes from Russia, Mirage-2000 from France and commercial and business jets from European countries will take to the skies during the show.
Some leading firms that have confirmed their participation are Gulf Stream, Dassault, Northrop Grumman, Tashkent Aviation Corporation, Raytheon, Bell Aviation, Embraer, Boeing and Airbus Industrie.
International participation will see delegations from the US, Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Brazil, Israel and a host of other countries making a beeline to the venue, 20 km from India's hi-tech capital.
From the subcontinent, India's leading aerospace and aviation firms in the public and private sectors will also pitch in, vying for global attention and export markets.
Leading the Indian contingent will be Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), Taneja Aerospace and the IAF.
"The event will serve as a platform for all stakeholders in the aviation and aerospace industries serving the military and civilian markets," said Singh.
Besides flying displays twice daily of defence and commercial aircraft, fighters, helicopters, transport planes and UAVs, the IAF will conduct aerobatics and formation flying with its Surya Kiran squadron and Sarang fleet of advanced light helicopters.
The IAF will also fly the first indigenously built Su-30.
ADA will demonstrate the flying prowess of its light combat aircraft (LCA), the supersonic fighter jet being built in collaboration with HAL and DRDO.
All three versions of LCA, christened Tejas -- Technology Demonstrator-1, Technology Demonstrator-2 and Prototype Vehicle will take part in flying displays.
HAL will also showcase two prototypes of its intermediate jet trainer (IJT), being built to train IAF's rookie pilots.
The British Hawk, the advanced jet trainer of BAE Systems, will be seen in action again. India this year signed a deal to purchase 66 Hawks.
India-Israel defence ties are likely to receive a boost with the third joint working group meeting held today in Tel Aviv. Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh led the eight-member Indian side.
Israel is understood to be keen on pitting its F-16 fighters against the IAF’s Su-30s in a joint exercise next year. Its other proposals include a marketing tie-up for Hindustan Aeronautics-made MiG-21UM trainer jets, the sale of new generation Heron UAVs and joint development of the Barak-II ship defence missile.
South Block — which is traditionally silent on defence issues involving Israel — said the JWG, which met Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and Defence Ministry Director General Amos Yaron today, was on a routine visit. Sources said the strategic aspects of discussions, including the proposed air exercises, would underscore the meeting at least from Israel’s side, while India would review the list of proposals from the defence industry.
Tel Aviv’s proposals include Israel’s upgradation of IAF Cheetah helicopters using avionics used in the indigenous ALH Dhruv helicopter. HAL already has a tie-up with IAI to market the helicopters to other countries, including Chile and Malaysia, which have expressed interest.
Israel has also offered to upgrade the Indian Navy’s Tu-142 maritime patrol planes in a tripartite agreement with Russia, though the latter has stalled the process. Ongoing trials of Israeli equipment for the IAF include Lahat anti-tank missiles for the indigenous Arjun battle tank, Crystal Maze laser-guided bombs and Pop-Eye beyond visual range missiles.
Israeli arms manufacturer Soltam has also announced its intention to enter into a joint venture with an Indian firm in Bangalore to manufacture military binoculars.
Defence deals with Israel this year included India signing up to buy Phalcon AWACs systems from Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI).
Israel and India recently held a dialogue on anti-terrorism, considered by Tel Aviv to be the cornerstone of future relations, in a year marked by a flurry of high-profile visits.
India and Israel have held the third Joint Working Group meeting on defence cooperation.
An eight-member Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Ajay Vikram Singh is in Israel to review the defence ties between the two countries and to work out new areas of cooperation, defence sources said.
The sources brushed aside any impact on the relationship between the two countries following the change of government in New Delhi. "We haven't felt anything of the sort yet. Our relationship is based on mutual concerns and has sound foundations," one source said.
The two countries have recently stepped up engagement in various fields, with defence cooperation talks having taken place in quick succession to foreign ministry consultations and the JWG meeting on counter-terrorism.
A delegation from the Indian Ordnance Board is also said to have visited Israel last week.
Israel has emerged as India's second largest supplier of defence equipment after Russia.
Large-scale technological cooperation with the Indian defense industry will not only improve Russia’s position on the Asian arms market; it will mean Russia will not have to constantly give in to Chinese pressure.
Two days before Putin’s official visit began, almost a thousand executives from Russian defense companies and officials of various kinds led by Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov descended on New Delhi. The delegation left no room for doubt: the subject of technological cooperation was clearly on the agenda for Putin’s meeting with India’s prime minister. More than half of the trade turnover between Russia and India ($3.3 billion in 2003) comes from supplying Russian arms to India. Last year, India became the biggest purchaser of Russian weaponry, forcing China into second place. Vladimir Pakhomov, the deputy general director at Rosoboronexport, notes that half of all his company’s contract obligations consist of orders from India. The Indian arms market is one of the fastest growing in the world. Sergei Ivanov himself stated that “in the next decade, India will spend several tens of billions of dollars on military hardware.” It will not be easy for Russian manufacturers to keep their hard-won position on the Indian market, however. In recent years, Indian officials have been trying to diversify defense purchases, and this means Russian companies are facing increased competition from French and Israeli corporations. “We are not afraid of competing with the West,” Ivanov announced upon arriving in New Delhi. “But we will fight for each new contract with all our might using all legal means.” Obviously, President Putin will have a central role to play in this battle.
Bombs away Putin’s recent visit was first official visit after the Indian cabinet changed this May, and it will determine more than just the two countries’ international relations. It will determine the number of defense contracts Russia can expect in the medium term. At his very first meeting with the Indian prime minister and defense minister, Putin gave officials over 350 projects worth $3.5 billion. These involve more than merely supplying weapons, but entail joint development and production of military hardware. Ivanov believes that Russian-Indian cooperation would benefit both countries. Russia, unlike the United States, Israel, or France, is willing to hand over production licenses to India, thereby revealing almost all of the technological secrets involved in production. The most striking example of this trend was the successful completion of the first state of a massive contract for $5 billion that Russia and India signed eight years ago. This deal will supply and produce 180 multi-functional fighter jets in India. The contract is unique because it is the first time in world history that an Indian defense company will participate actively in developing a new fighter jet. The Indian side will create the on-board equipment for the plane. “India has already received 34 jets, and we have six more to send,” stated the president of Irkut Corporation. When Putin visited Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, he saw the first new jet that Indian specialists had assembled using Russian licenses. India, unlike China, has permission to produce jet engines as well as planes. During Putin’s visit, the Indian government agreed to buy another 10 planes and to update 10 of its Russian fighter jets. The deal’s price tag has not been announced but experts believe it could be as high as $1 billion.
And Russian companies are not just giving the Indians planes. In Bangalore, India’s equivalent of Silicon Valley, the Russian-Indian joint venture Brahmos had been developing supersonic missiles. When Putin came to visit, Ivanov and his Indian counterpart signed three agreements to increase the venture’s capital and expand its product line. According to the agreement, Russia will invest around $50 million in the company. Alexander Leonov, the deputy director of Machine Building NPO, said that this money will go toward mass production of sea-to-air missiles and new approaches to ground and air-to-air options. Brahmos missiles have done well in testing and have already been accepted by the Russian Navy and India. Now all that remains to be done is figure out how to export them to third countries. Experts believe that after its expansion, Brahmos will be able to produce and export up to 370 missiles a year.
But the real breakthrough in Russian-Indian cooperation came on the space front. General Director of the Federal Space Agency, Anatoly Perminov, signed a strategic partnership agreement with the head of the Indian Space Research Organization to build, develop, and use the Russian global positioning satellite system, GLONASS. This system is in direct competition with the U.S. GPS. This system not only determines the accuracy of nuclear attacks, but also that of early warning stations. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, GLONASS deteriorated rapidly. Instead of the 18 satellites needed for the system to function properly, only 11 are currently in orbit. This situation should change radically in the near future. Perminov stated that Indian participation in GLONASS means that by 2008 the full contingent should be up and working again. The two sides furthermore agreed to rebuild the system’s infrastructure on the ground. The agreements stipulate joint development and production of the next generation of space devices that will be launched by Indian rockets from Indian launch pads. The new generation of satellites can provide an unlimited number of users with precise information from any point on or near Earth. The Indian space agency will get the ability to determine military targets’ location in Pakistan to within one to 10 meters in return for its participation in the project.
Chinese blackmail Despite the active development of joint programs, the Indian authorities plan to continue to buy military hardware directly from Russia. Ivanov stated that the Indian air force would like to buy strategic long-range bombers from Russia. The new leadership at the Indian navy desperately needs to buy or lease several nuclear subs. If these contracts are signed, Russian defense companies stand to make at least two billion dollars. In this case, India will keep its status as the world’s largest importer of Russian weaponry for the next several years.
If this happens, Russia will have a lot more leverage in negotiations with China. Today, the PRC has been added to the list of what Russian authorities call “problem countries” that can only be sold new weapons with lower military capacity. It’s no secret that the Chinese government had demanded Russia improve the quality of the weapons supplied to China or the Chinese will stop payment on the contracts already under way. The Chinese believe that because Russia has recognized China as a strategic partner, Russia should provide China all of the weaponry allowed by the UN. The fact that China has yet to give up its claims on Russian territory has been ignored by Beijing. Apparently, the Chinese don’t seem to get that strategic partners cannot make official claims on each other’s land.
When Putin visited Beijing in October, the Chinese army refused to buy 24 fighter jests worth one billion dollars, though the deal was cut last year. Moreover, another contract to supply new jet engines has yet to be paid. Yet the Chinese defense minister hinted to Putin that Moscow could lose the Chinese arms market for good if it continues to pursue its current policy. To be fair, it should be mentioned that the Chinese are blackmailing France in exactly the same way. China concluded a deal with Airbus for four large planes costing $1.4 billion, but because France and other EU countries have yet to lift the embargo on arms supplies to China, the contract seems likely to fall through. Russia can avoid Chinese blackmail only by dramatically increasing cooperation with India. If India will buy $3-4 billion in weapons a year, most Russia defense companies will hardly notice the reduced supplies to China.
New Delhi, India, Dec. 22 (UPI) -- India on Wednesday claimed partial victory in spoiling Pakistan's F-16 jets shopping spree by saying that Belgium had agreed to New Delhi's request not to sell the fighter jets to Islamabad.
"The issue of Pakistan's formal request to Belgium to procure F-16 jets was taken up with the Belgian authorities in September 2003," Indian Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee told lawmakers in the parliament on Wednesday.
"Given the sensitivity of the geo-political situation in South Asia, the Belgian government took a conscious decision not to sell F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan," Mukherjee announced amid thumping of desks by the lawmakers.
Indian government had been lobbying with the United States and Belgium over the last several weeks not to fuel an arms race in nuclear-armed South Asia by supplying sophisticated weapons and jets to Pakistan.
"The range of the F-16s would cover a number of civilian and military facilities of northern India," Mukherjee said, adding, "The increase in strength of F-16s with Pakistan would adversely affect the current balance of air power between the Indian and Pakistan Air Forces."
Pakistan has been pressing Washington in the recent months to supply it with the promised fleet of fighter jets.
While Washington has pledged a $1.2 billion arms package to Islamabad, it has not categorically said if the deal would include the F-16 jets.
Last month, the Bush administration had notified Congress of its intention to sell sophisticated weapons to Pakistan, including eight P-3C Orion planes to beef up surveillance of its coasts and borders.
Earlier this month, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was in Indian capital, where he was told by New Delhi that any sale of fighter jets to Pakistan might affect India-U.S. relations.
Washington has to tread carefully in South Asia, where Pakistan is America's launching base in its war against terror in Afghanistan. On the other hand, India is the biggest democracy and home to world's second-largest Muslim population after Indonesia.
While India is lending its hand in rebuilding the war-devastated Afghanistan, it has stayed away from the war on Iraq, which now many Americans feel was not worth fighting.
Last week, the United States tried to placate an incensed India over Washington's impending arms sales to Pakistan by offering to sell more weapons to New Delhi.
The U.S. ambassador to New Delhi, David Mulford, said Washington wants to be a very big supplier of military equipment to India.
"We would like to have a very important economic and military relationship with India. We would like to be a big supplier of military equipment to India," Mulford told reporters in the Indian capital.
Mulford dismissed New Delhi's apprehension that arms supplies to Pakistan would have negative impact on bilateral ties as well as on the India-Pakistan peace dialogue.
"I don't see why it (arms supply to Pakistan) should have any impact on the dialogue," he said."
Pakistan wants to buy up to 25 F-16s, which cost around $25 million each, to add to its F-16 fleet. The United States has yet to make a decision on the sale. Pakistan has been waiting since 1990 for the planes. The Presser Amendment banned military transfers unless the U.S. administration could certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear weapons program. Pakistan paid for the undelivered aircraft until 1996 and then demanded the return of about $620 million.
Islamabad had also approached Belgium for two squadrons of used F-16s, a deal that needs U.S. approval under an agreement between Brussels and Washington.
Pakistan, however, had rejected Indian objections as "incomprehensible," saying that its modest defense requirements should not irk New Delhi.
A Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said in Islamabad that India itself had an ambitious arms buying program.
"These statements (from India) are disturbing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan told a news conference. "India's weapons acquisition and weaponization program is very ambitious. They have been buying weapons and sophisticated technology from all over the world."
Khan described Pakistan's program as modest compared to that of New Delhi, which it said spends billions of dollars on weapons. "We do not want to match India gun-for-gun, missile-for-missile, aircraft-for-aircraft," he said.
Besides the F-16 jets, Pakistan also wants to acquire P-3 Orion surveillance planes, Phalanx rapid-fire guns, and TOW missiles, but New Delhi says the weapons could also be against India.
The Pentagon, however, argues that the weapons it intends to provide would enhance Pakistan's search surveillance-and-control capability in support of maritime interdiction operations and increase their ability to support the U.S. Operation Enduring Freedom operations.
It's a watershed case for Washington on how to keep Islamabad in good humor without annoying New Delhi.
Washington keeps playing a seesaw game in the region, depending on the timings. During the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, Washington offered F-16s to Pakistan on an exclusive basis. But in the early 1990s, it imposed restrictions under the Pressler amendment.
After 2000, Washington warmed up to India by offering a next generation "strategic partnership." Then, post 9/11, it designated Pakistan a major non-NATO ally, taking India by surprise.
And now, the United States wants to sell deadly weapons to both India and Pakistan.
"It's downright foolhardy for Washington both to supply new weapons to India and Pakistan and then expect them to negotiate peace," newspaper columnist Praful Bidwai said in an article. "The logic of the first process - escalation of military preparations and hostility - sharply differs from the logic of dialogue and reconciliation.
"Washington's double standards have harmful strategic consequences. They aggravate India-Pakistan rivalry. In particular, they could put a spoke in the current peace process," Bidwai said.
Both India and Pakistan are involved in a series of confidence-building measure to overcome five decades of war, hostility and suspicion. The two have fought three wars since gaining simultaneous independence from Britain in 1947.
India has finalised a deal with Russia to purchase 16 MIG-29K jets for the navy and plans to upgrade the army's fleet of T-72 tanks to increase their firepower, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee informed parliament Wednesday.
"A contract for the purchase of 16 MiG-29K aircraft from the Russian Federation for the Indian Navy was signed on Jan 20, 2004. The value of the contract is $740.35 million," Mukherjee said in a written reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.
The delivery of the aircraft will begin in June 2007 and the MiG-29Ks would give the navy the capability of carrying out airborne missions at sea at extended ranges from the coastline.
In a reply to another question, Mukherjee said the Indian Army's entire fleet of T-72 tanks would be upgraded by installing auto navigation systems and new engines for better mobility.
The protection, night sight and thermal fire control systems used in the tanks would also be upgraded to improve their firepower.
The Heavy Vehicles Factory in Tamil Nadu was upgrading the Russian-designed T-72s and the project was likely to be completed by 2008-2009.
The Indian government has directed the Air Force to review and modify its training procedures following a rapid rise in combat aircraft crashes attributed to human error.
The Defence Ministry on Dec. 20 directed the Air Force to make drastic training changes that could significantly reduce the number of crashes, a senior ministry official said.
The Defence Ministry’s concerns are based on a recent Indian Air Force report that confirms the service in the last three years has lost 54 combat aircraft and 22 pilots in crashes, the official said. The report, which was submitted in the last two weeks, blames the majority of these crashes on the service’s lack of advanced jet trainer (AJT) aircraft. The human errors that resulted in the crashes of 23 Air Force planes might have been avoided, according to the report, if the service had AJTs to help pilots prepare for flying in normal and adverse conditions before they take to the skies in real combat aircraft.
The official said the Defence Ministry also directed the Air Force to reexamine pilot training for certain maneuvers, especially night flying.
The Indian Air Force has lost three Mirage 2000-H aircraft, eight Jaguars and 43 MiG variants to air crashes in the last three years.
However, a senior Air Force official said Dec.20 that the high crash rate also must be blamed on aircraft maintenance problems and technical and manufacturing defects.
He acknowledged the high crash rate is a matter of “great concern, but unless advanced trainers are inducted, the [accident] rate cannot be reduced.” The Air Force is likely to receive 24 Hawk 115 Y AJTs in late 2006.
After several years of negotiations, India on March 26 signed a $1.24 billion Hawk AJT deal with London-based BAE SYSTEMS. The terms call for BAE to supply India with 24 Hawk-115 Y aircraft in flying condition, with an additional 42 to be built under license from BAE at state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
Thales Awaits Large Orders from U.K., India in 2005
Thales expects to sign orders with Britain for surveillance drones and with India for attack submarines early next year, as part of a series of large defense contracts that could total 2 billion euros ($2.6 billion), Thales sales and marketing director Jean-Paul Perrier said.
The executive gave a stout defense of Thales’ multidomestic strategy, which has come under criticism from rival EADS, as he outlined expected sales from foreign governments.
Thales has generated increased sales from acquired foreign companies, proof that the multidomestic strategy works, he said.
EADS executives say their international strategy, dubbed “transnational,” differs from Thales’ in that EADS seeks to avoid duplication by creating centers of excellence that serve the whole group.
Thales also is moving toward centers of excellence, Perrier said.
“Thales’ reorganization into six divisions has been very useful as it gives greater visibility on the profit centers in the group,” stock analyst Agnes Blazy of CIC Securities, here, said. “What the market is waiting with impatience for, is how the assets are used in each division.”
Perrier, also chief executive of the Thales International division, said British government spending cuts have resulted in some slippage in military programs. But Thales expects to sign a 1.2 billion euro contract for the British unmanned aerial reconnaissance vehicle program, dubbed Watchkeeper, around March or April, Perrier told journalists here.
A signing for a first batch of two Scorpene submarines for India, worth 1.2 billion euros, could take place in January or February, once an interministerial body ratifies the decision, Perrier said. The defense and finance ministries already have green-lighted the purchase of six submarines, he said.
The deal consists of three lots of two submarines, each tranche worth 1.2 billion euros.
A spokesman for Armaris, the Thales-DCN joint venture that is marketing the Scorpene, declined comment. Armaris will be the prime contractor for the technology transfer that will enable India to build the submarines locally.
Thales made an offer to the New Delhi government a year ago to transfer technology for local production of 126 Mirage 2000-5 fighters, but the government now may hold an international competition for the deal, he said.
In Britain, Perrier thought it likely a key “main gate” decision on the design of the Royal Navy’s two new large CVF aircraft carriers could slip from 2005 into 2006.
Thales is hoping Singapore will choose Dassault Aviation’s Rafale in the island’s competition for 20 fighters, and a decision could be made by February, Perrier said. “We have high hopes,” he said.
Thales provides the RBE radar and other electronics for the French-built Rafale, which is competing against the Boeing F-15 and Eurofighter Typhoon for the Singapore contract.
In total, Thales expects more than 10 billion euros in new orders in the next three years from foreign governments, led by an expected 6.6 billion euros of business in the United Kingdom.
A prospective 7 billion euro contract to supply a border surveillance system, called Miksa, to Saudi Arabia is still being discussed and remains a live prospect, despite pressure from the U.S. government on Saudi officials to grant contracts to American firms, he said.
French and Saudi ministers signed a preliminary agreement 10 years ago on supply of the system
F-16 fighter aircraft or not, the Pakistani air force cannot match the Indian Air Force, Commander-in-Chief of the Strategic Forces Command Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani said on Tuesday.
"In conventional warfare capability, we are far ahead of our western neighbours,'' Bhavnani told newspersons in Kolkata when asked if Pakistan's acquisition of F-16s from the US will give its air force an edge over the IAF.
Air Marshal Bhavnani, who was in the city for the launching ceremony of the fast attack craft, 'INS Bitra', at the Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers premises, said 'concerted efforts' are being made to acquire the most modern and the best combat aircraft.
He said the Sukhoi-30 MKIs, now in possession of the IAF, are among the best in the world. Besides, the IAF also has Mirages and Jaguars.
''All these put together, we can't be matched. So, let them get what they want. We are confident that we can take on any one,'' Air Marshal Bhavnani said.
Hunting for Osama bin Laden, the CIA established a series of small, covert bases in the rugged mountain frontier of northwest Pakistan in late 2003. Bin Laden, the terrorist leader, was being sheltered there by local tribesmen and foreign militants, the agency had concluded, and he controlled a group of handpicked operatives dedicated to attacking the United States.
But since the bases opened, the CIA officers stationed there have been strictly supervised by Pakistani officials, who have limited their ability to operate and have escorted them wherever they travel in the Pakistani border region. As a result, it has been virtually impossible for the Americans to gather intelligence effectively, say several officials familiar with the operation who would speak only anonymously.
More than three years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the Pentagon and New York transformed bin Laden into the most wanted man in the world, the search for him remains stalled, frustrated by the remote topography of his likely Pakistani sanctuary, stymied by an al-Qaida network that remains well funded and highly disciplined, sidetracked by the distractions of the war in Iraq, and, perhaps most significantly, limited by deep suspicion of the United States among Pakistanis.
Prodded by the United States, Pakistan began an offensive along its northwest border this spring to flush out al-Qaida forces that had escaped from Afghanistan and to help find bin Laden.
But after suffering heavy casualties and causing civilian deaths that stirred opposition, the Pakistani army declared victory two weeks ago and announced that bin Laden was not in Pakistan.
Many U.S. intelligence officials are confident that he is, and that he is as dangerous as ever.
The war in Afghanistan inflicted severe damage on al-Qaida, forcing it to adapt to survive, intelligence specialists agree. Today, they say it largely functions as a loose network of local franchises linked by a militant Islamist ideology. But bin Laden remains much more than just an iconic figurehead of Islamic militancy, most U.S. intelligence officials now say. From a presumed hiding place on the Pakistani side of the Afghan-Pakistan border, he controls an elite terrorist cell devoted to attacking the United States, the officials say they suspect. They contend that he personally oversees the group of al-Qaida operatives, which he hopes to use for another "spectacular" event, like the Sept. 11 attacks.
U.S. counterterrorism analysts say this unit probably is dispersed, though they do not know where. This "external planning group" can communicate with regional affiliates around the world to work with them when needed, one senior intelligence official said. "There is a strong desire by bin Laden to attack the continental United States, and he wants to use the external planning mode to do it," the official said.
But the United States has failed to penetrate the group and has no idea when or where it will try to strike, the officials acknowledged. The contention of intelligence officials that such a group poses grave danger helps explain why the Bush administration continues to respond so strongly to reported terrorist threats; officials cannot tell which ones to take most seriously.
Intelligence officials would not provide any details of how they reached their conclusions about bin Laden's current role.
Many analysts are convinced that he is being protected by a well-financed network of Pakistani tribesmen and foreign militants who operate in the impoverished border region, and that they have helped him communicate with major figures in his network.
"Bin Laden is getting his logistical support from the tribes," said one intelligence official. "He still has operational communications with the outside."
The place suspected of being bin Laden's hideout, in the shadow of the Hindu Kush mountain range, is in one of the most isolated and backward corners of the world.
US argument behind arms sale to Pak not acceptable
The US argument that it was supplying sophisticated weapons system to Pakistan to tackle terrorist groups does not stand, Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on Sunday.
"India had told US Defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld that supplying weapons like F-16 fighter aircraft, lethal missile systems and naval reconnaissance aircraft to Pakistan at this juncture would affect the peace process," he told reporters after dedicating a martyrs' memorial in Bhubaneswar.
"The argument given is that the weapons are being given to contain terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Taliban but it does not stand," Mukherjee said, adding, "Nobody uses F-16 planes and other weapons meant for big wars to fight terrorists."
Rumsfeld, during his recent visit to New Delhi, had met him, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh and "all of us impressed upon him that the weapons should not be given to Pakistan at this juncture," the Defence Minister said.
The US has categorised Pakistan as one of its major non-NATO allies, he said.
Libya Sells Fleet of Mirage-5 Fighter Aircraft to Pakistan
Libya reportedly has sold its 49-jet fleet of Mirage-5 fighter aircraft to the Pakistani Air Force to be used for spare parts, according to informed sources in Libya.
The Libyan Mirage-5/D/DD/DE had been grounded for more than 10 years as a result of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on Libya for its role in the downing of an American jetliner in the late 1980s.
“It would have cost Libya a lot to service and refit the Mirages to make them operational,” said one source, who asked not to be named. “That’s why it made better sense to sell the jets and look for new ones in the market.”
Under the Pakistani-Libyan deal, reportedly reached in September, all Mirages will be transported to Pakistan before year’s end.
The Pakistani military declined comment on the purchase of the Libyan Mirages.
Pakistan, which operates a large about 52 Mirage-5 ground attack fighters and 70 Mirage-3s, has bought during the past decade Mirage-3 and -5 models from countries that could no longer operate them or had withdrawn them from service.
Lebanon was among the last countries to sell its fleet of 11 Mirage-3s to the Pakistanis in 2000.
Dassault, the French manufacturer of the Mirage-3 and Mirage-5, stopped producing parts for these models more than a decade ago.
Eleven overseas companies are vying to sell the Indian Defense Ministry two maritime surveillance aircraft for $27.7 million in response to a global tender the government floated in September, a ministry official said.
French companies ATR and Dassault Aviation, Spain’s CASA, , Sweden’s SAAB, Brazil’s Embraer, Ukraine’s Antonov, Russia’s Ilyushin Aviation, Germany’s Dornier, Canada’s Bombardier and U.S. firm Lockheed Martin have submitted proposals, along with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. The Defence Ministry is reviewing the technology of the offers, the ministry official said.
In the past, it has taken India up to 10 years to complete defense acquisitions, due to bureaucratic red tape. But the Defence Ministry official said the maritime surveillance aircraft purchase will be completed within a year.
Detailing Navy and Coast Guard requirements, the official said the twin-engine plane and its sub-systems should be tropical-weather worthy. Other essential parameters specify that the aircraft should have:
• Short takeoff and landing.
• A patrol speed of 180 to 405 kilometers per hour.
• Internal and external fuel storage.
• A range of up to 2,000 nautical miles or a minimum of eight hours.
• Ability to drop paratroops.
• 360-degree radar and day-and-night capabilities.
The aircraft’s primary role will be maritime surveillance, sea searches and rescues, casualty evacuation, pollution detection, control and response, fisheries control, offshore security, communications and logistics, and command and control. They also will be used to monitor sea trade routes. Eight percent of India’s trade is conducted by sea.
The planes must be capable of surveillance from India’s western state of Gujarat to Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand and Indonesia, a senior Indian Coast Guard official said. It also is important for the aircraft to fly low-altitude reconnaissance for long periods.
The Navy’s current fleet of aging maritime surveillance aircraft is inadequate to monitor India’s more than 2.5 million-kilometer coastline. The Coast Guard has no long-range maritime surveillance aircraft.
It is because of this current weakness that India is having its three remaining Il-38 anti-submarine warfare maritime surveillance aircraft upgraded in Russia. The work will include installation of the new Sea Dragon mission system being developed by Ilyushin Design Bureau, Moscow.
The upgrade of India’s eight aging Russian-built Tu-142 maritime surveillance aircraft are in limbo following the Navy’s rejection of a Russian bid to perform the work. Russia has refused to permit India to have the planes upgraded for a lower price in Israel.
Even as the first Rs 15-crore BrahMos supersonic missile is expected to be fitted on an Indian Navy ship next year, Sivathanu Pillai, CEO and MD of BrahMos Aerospace and chief controller (R&D) DRDO, on Sunday expressed confidence that the missile variant for the Indian Air Force (IAF) could be ready in three years.
Pillai,who was here for the 56th convention of the Aeronautical Society of India, told reporters that it was the only supersonic anti-ship missile in the world since the US and Germany were still working on theirs.Developed for a global market, it is being marketed accordingly by the JV company, BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., he said.
The first missile will be fitted on an Indian Navy ship next year, at a time when air trials will also begin, to meet the needs of the IAF. The JV company has received a letter of intent and an advance from the Navy on the basis of which it has begun production, Pillai said.
The anti-ship, naval variant allows for land-to-sea and ship-to-ship launch. The first markets for the missiles are the armed forces of the two countries, although there has been a good deal of interest in the equipment. The declaration made during president V. Putin's recent visit, of infusing an additional $50 million, will facilitate the air trials.While a variant for the IAF is expected to take four to five years, Pillai was confident that they would be able to speed up the delivery.
"We will need to reconfigure or reduce the booster for an aircraft. There are some design changes which need to be developed. The missile will fly on the SU-30 and though the project is expected to take four to five years, we are confident we can do it in three years," Pillai said.
He added that the missile will be produced by 20 Indian and 10 Russian consortium companies, which have been identified. "We wanted to ensure that the joint development works, so the two countries identified a consortium of manufacturers who will produce the missile," he said.
Under this approach, 20 Indian companies, seven in the public and 13 in the private sector, and 10 Russian companies have been identified.
These companies have made their own investments for the production, which is expected to be sizeable in numbers. The 290-km range, liquid fuel charged, 3-tonne missile will carry a warhead of 200-kg conventional high explosive.
The pre-emptive cruise missile is a weapon of first strike, being a tactical weapon. The naval version is ready for production having undergone eight tests. The army and the air force variants will both require modifications. BrahMos Aerospace Pvt. Ltd., the 50.5: 49.50 per cent JV company was set up with an initial corpus of $250 million to develop the mobile launch complex. The Russian equity is being contributed through the diversion of India's loan repayment to the Russians.
Pillai explained that the venture will use the new concept of government-owned, company operated (GoCo). "This is still a concept, where the product and the producer have been identified. Once the number of missiles to be produced increases, and production capacity needs to be augmented, then it will be manufactured in this consortium.
Now, everything for the Brah-Mos is within the JV company," he said.
Deployment generates interest, little opposition
By Bill Gertz
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Deployment of the first U.S. national missile defense has produced little domestic or international opposition. In fact, there is growing interest among other nations in taking part in buying or cooperating in U.S. efforts to knock down enemy missiles and warheads.
Russia, with thousands of strategic nuclear missiles and its own limited missile defense, has said that the U.S. system does not threaten Moscow's security. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said in August that the interceptors in Alaska "pose no threat to Russia's security." He also said that "in theory Russia has never ruled out cooperation with the USA" in missile defenses.
China, on the other hand, has reacted modestly. "Our missile defenses aren't really a threat to China. And I think they know that," said an official who is involved in missile defense at the Pentagon. "It's not been a thunderous response or ruptured relations."
However, China has been more vocal in opposing U.S. short-range missile defenses, such as the Patriot PAC-3 or Aegis missile defense, that could be sold or used cooperatively in defending Taiwan, the official said.
China's official People's Daily, the newspaper of the ruling Communist Party, said U.S. missile defenses can contribute to world peace by stopping the accidental launch of a nuclear missile. "However, the [national missile defense], no matter how perfect it becomes, could not truly stop a nuclear war or a nuclear strike on the U.S. continent," the newspaper stated.
Japan is likely to become one of the major U.S. partners in overseas missile defense. Tokyo has agreed to buy the Navy's new Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptor, which can be deployed on Japan's Aegis ships.
Japan also has expressed an interest in buying the Air Force's new Airborne Laser, the Boeing 747 with a laser gun outfitted in the nose that can shoot down short-range missiles. For the Japanese, the major missile threat comes from North Korea, which has 620-mile-range Nodong missiles that can hit Japan.
European allies Britain, Germany, Italy, Poland, Romania and Hungary also are interested in cooperative arrangements with the United States on missile defense. Poland already has designated the Powidz Air Base in the western part of the country as a potential interceptor base for U.S. missiles. Construction of a base in Europe could begin as early as 2006, defense officials said.
Australia has said it plans to develop missile defenses with the United States. Israel has deployed Arrow missile defenses that were developed jointly with the United States. India is considering the purchase of Patriot anti-missile systems to counter the threat from Pakistan's missiles.
Taiwan, which already has a less-capable version of the Patriot, is planning purchases of the PAC-3, perhaps as early as next year. Taiwan needs the defenses to counter the growing Chinese missile threat to the island. "The foremost threat from the Chinese communists is their some 600 ballistic missiles," said Adm. Chen Pang-chih, head of Taiwan's political warfare bureau.
The Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited (GRSE) today launched 'Bangaram', its fast attack craft for the Indian Navy, equipped with the latest navigation, communication and global positioning system equipment.
The 46m-long craft, launched by Prita Choudhry, wife of Vice chief of Army staff Lt Gen Shantonu Choudhry, has been named after one of the islands of Andaman and Nicobar Islands and will operate under the Integrated Defence Command of the islands.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, Lt Gen Choudhury said there was need for greater indigenous of the equipment used by the armed forces.
The 260 tonne improved 'Trinkat' class ship built at a cost of Rs 48 crore has an endurance of 2000 nautical miles and offers a cost effective platform for patrol and rescue operations and sea.
The armaments on board constitute a 30mm gun and small arm to be supplied by the Navy, CMD of GRSE rear admiral Rajeev Paralikar said.
WASHINGTON, Dec 9: The United States and India are believed to have developed some differences over New Delhi's expected purchase of a missile defence system from Washington, diplomatic sources told Dawn.
According to these sources, India wants to purchase the latest PAC-3 version of Patriot missiles while the United States is offering an earlier, PAC-1 version, used in the two Gulf wars.
The two countries have been involved in a substantive dialogue for supplying the Patriot missiles defence system and Deep-Sea Rescue Vehicles to India. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who arrived in New Delhi on Thursday, was expected to finalize the deal during his two-day stay in the Indian capital.
But diplomatic sources in Washington believe that India's demand for the latest PAC-3 version of the missile defence system could delay the deal. Policy-makers in New Delhi believe that if the Patriot deal goes through, they will not have to worry about the proposed $1.2 billion US arms package for Pakistan.
The Patriots will drastically improve India's military capability, giving it a huge strategic advantage over both China and Pakistan. Patriot is a long-range, all-altitude, all-weather air defence system to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced aircraft.
More than a year has gone by since President George W Bush declared promotion of democracy in the Muslim world as one of the key objectives of US foreign policy in the ‘greater Middle East’. The US went to war in
Afghanistan and Iraq partly to create models for pluralist democracies for Muslim states.
Torn between the demands of realpolitik and its vision of changing the world, Bush’s team is consistently opting for compromises on both. The vision of a democratic Muslim world is being sacrificed to accommodate undemocratic Muslim rulers allied to the US. The gap between Washington’s pro-democracy rhetoric and pro-status quo policies is often illustrated best by America’s complex relationship with Pakistan’s military establishment. During the recent White House meeting between President Bush and General Musharraf, the American President spoke of the need for building democracy in the Palestinian territory but not for changing things in Pakistan. President Bush met Musharraf on a Saturday, dragging his entire foreign policy and national security team out of their homes over a weekend. This was ostensibly an acknowledgment of Pakistan’s key role in the war against terrorism and of Musharraf’s contribution in making that role possible.
Pretending that he was meeting a democratic leader, President Bush chose to define what a Palestinian democracy should look like. He called for “a world effort to help the Palestinians develop a state that is truly free: one that’s got an independent judiciary; one that’s got a civil society; one that’s got the capacity to fight off the terrorists; one that allows for dissent; one in which people can vote.” Most of those criteria are not met in Pakistan.
General Musharraf seized power in a coup, purged the Supreme Court, arbitrarily amended the constitution and has never stood for election in a contested campaign. It is true that General Musharraf allows a fair amount of dissent in Pakistan but that amounts to meeting one criterion out of the several set forth in President Bush’s definition of a Palestinian democracy. One understands that international relations cannot be subject purely to ideals, including the demand that all nations accept one system of governance. But for any foreign policy to be effective it must be credible. The Bush administration’s mantra of promoting democracy in the Muslim world is one of those policies that simply will not be credible if allies such as General Musharraf are allowed to redefine democracy. The United States will have to tone down its rhetoric of democracy promotion or at least find a balance between maintaining alliances of convenience and its stated higher moral purpose. The US could demand reform while retaining alliances dictated by strategic considerations. For example, I doubt if General Musharraf would have walked out of his alliance with the US if Bush had reminded him that he is not fulfilling conditions for democratic development.
President Bush’s reluctance to nudge General Musharraf on the subject of democracy is attributed to the US need for Pakistani cooperation, especially in the hunt for Osama bin Laden. But here too the law of diminishing returns appears to be in play. Musharraf is beginning to acknowledge that he and his intelligence services may not have the crucial role in finding bin Laden they have been assumed to have. ‘‘We don’t know where he is,’’ Musharraf said during his stopover in Washington, which was the latest in several mutually contradictory comments he has made on the subject.
According to the memoirs of General Tommy Franks, the CENTCOM commander at the time, Musharraf had told him soon after the beginning of American military operations in Afghanistan that Pakistani intelligence would know if and when bin Laden crosses the Afghan-Pakistan border. Then on December 24, 2001, General Musharraf told The China Daily: ‘‘Maybe he is dead because of all the operations that have been conducted, the bombardment of all the caves that have been conducted, there’s a great possibility that he may have lost his life there.’’ He also said, ‘‘He is not in Pakistan; that we are reasonably sure, we cannot be 100 per cent sure, but we have sealed the borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan’’ and stuck with the ‘‘he is dead’’ assertion through much of 2002. After that he repeatedly told interviewers that even if bin Laden was alive, he could not be in Pakistan. That position changed in an interview with the BBC on September 11, 2003. In that interview, General Musharraf said, ‘‘I feel that he is alive, yes because of the various information and intelligence that have come up now. But to guess whether he’s in Pakistan or Afghanistan, the possibility exists he is shifting places, shifting bases on both sides.’’ That reply was repeated several times until the middle of 2004. Only in September 2004 did Musharraf tell CNN, ‘‘I don’t know where he is. I wish I did.’’
Last week in Washington, the General was interviewed again by CNN. In that interview Musharraf conceded that he was ‘‘confused’’ about bin Laden’s whereabouts. From the definition of democracy to the likely hiding place of America’s most wanted terrorist, why is there significant confusion in the US-Pakistan alliance?
Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal S.Krishnaswamy on Wednesday said that the concept of air power is being misunderstood, and added that it should not only be seen as the prerogative of the Indian Air Force, but as the right of every citizen of the country.
Addressing a seminar on the air power challenges facing the IAF in the coming millennium, Krishnaswamy said: " "Air power should not be viewed as being synonymous with the Air Force. The Air Force is an armed service, but air power is something, which is a privilege for every citizen. It belongs to every citizen. It does not belong to you and me."
"Countries that are short in manpower relative of the enormity of the task of guarding its interests, where human lives are seem to be most precious, it is the right environment for growth of air power. Such countries facing a threat to their peace and stability or its perception on its use of military force, where it visualises that force must be used effectively, that is another rightful environment," he added.
India has been upgrading its air force in recent years. The world's fourth largest air force badly needs trainer jets, and in this regard, the Indian Government recently inked a 1.7 billion dollar deal to buy Hawk trainer jets from Britain's BAE Systems Plc.
The IAF has also inked a deal with Israel for sale of three Phalcon early warning radar systems in a package estimated to be worth around 1.1 billion dollars.
The Indian Air Force was officially established on October 8, 1932.
Union Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday told the Lok Sabha that the user trials of the indigenously-developed surface-to-air missiles -- Akash and Trishul and anti-tank missiles Nag would be ready by December 2005.
In a written reply to the Lower House, Mukherjee also said that the development trials of the Prithvi-II for the Air Force, the Dhanush for the Navy and the BrahMos, Agni-I and II have been completed and these are in the process of induction. Prithvi-I has already been inducted into the Army, he added.
The minister also informed the House that some countries have shown interest in the BrahMos and the Nag.
Russian Air Force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov has said the new Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bomber has shown good results during its flight tests.
''We have developed the Su-34 fighter-bomber, which was previously known as the Su-27-IB, General Mikhailov told reporters. ''This warplane is here for everyone to see and it is performing very well during tests,'' he said.
Gen Mikhailov said experts first conducted all the ground tests, before the flight tests. During the ground tests one engine was destroyed, he pointed out.
''There are plans to resume tests of the Antonov An-70 military-transport aircraft. We have now eliminated all of the D-27 power-plant's drawbacks,'' the General said.
Yet another An-70 would have faced problems mid-air, if we allowed flight tests, before completing ground tests and exposing all drawbacks in the R-27 power-plant, he said.
Referring to the immediate task of the Russian Air Force, Gen Mikhailov said that it gave priority to upgrading the available air-defence weaponry.
''As far as air-defence weapons are concerned, we focussed on the modernisation of operational systems, also moving to develop the S-300 Surface-to-Air Missile (SAM) complex,'' he said.
Russia, India explore Central Asia cooperation
Russia and India have reached a tentative agreement on military cooperation in Central Asia, aimed at resolving any potential conflict of interests between the two powers in the strategically important region.
By Roger McDermott for The Jamestown Foundation (09/12/04)
Russian President Vladimir Putin reached no definitive accord during his 3-4 December visit to New Delhi, but he also did much to build mutual understanding concerning the future needs of the Russian defense industry and promoting bilateral security relations. Moscow has recently noted the increased contacts between India and Tajikistan, as India is building a runway at a military airport near Dushanbe. The understanding reached during Putin's visit indicates that both sides will try to defuse competition in providing military assistance to Central Asian countries and, wherever possible, seek cooperative measures instead, Itar-Tass reported on 4 December. Such political possibilities have emerged partly as a result of the strength of defense exports to India and the skilful handling of India's strategic concerns. The Russian delegation submitted more than 350 draft contracts worth an estimated US$3.5 billion for consideration. This vibrant export background has not been lost on Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who said, "Indian-Russian cooperation is not limited to dollars alone and measured in terms of prices. Indian-Russian relations have long since gone beyond the buyer-seller framework. We are building up cooperation in joint scientific and research projects, experimental design and licensed production. We are seriously not just thinking but planning to go into third countries' markets with a jointly produced product," Ivanov explained on Russian NTV on 4 December. Clearly one potential area will be Central Asia, where possible joint ventures could reduce rivalry and provide yet another alternative to expensive contracts with Western defense companies. It also involves a quid pro quo, as Moscow will expect sensitivity to its geopolitical concerns and strategic interests in Central Asia.
Russia steers clear of Pakistan A source within the Russian military delegation in New Delhi pointed out that Russia is the only major arms exporter in the world that, while dealing with India, does not sell weapons to Pakistan. This fact alone, coupled with the strong and burgeoning defense export trade from Russia to India, predisposes the Indian government towards at least lending a sympathetic ear to Moscow's political concerns, especially when they relate to Central Asia. The supply of military spare parts from Russian companies is regarded as a crucial part of expanding business with India, trying to negate the competition that has developed with Central and East European companies seeking to sell parts at cheaper prices. Putin is convinced that such close military-technical cooperation results from the special relationship between Russia and India. Illustrating this, Putin highlighted the Russian-Indian Brahmos joint venture, which produces an anti-ship cruise missile that has entered service with the Indian navy. He hopes that such ventures will provide the basis for developing future missile technology with applications in peaceful programs. Russia and India are in talks about setting up a joint venture to manufacture 155-milimeter heavy artillery units. Sergei Chemezov, head of Russian arms manufacturer Rosoboroneksport explained, "This would be a NATO-caliber gun. We are willing to start up joint production so that they can then be sold on to third countries."
Incentives for expansion Although talks remain at an early stage, the company has a solid basis for confidence in seeking to expand its access to the Indian market, since it has done business worth over US$4 billion with India so far this year. Ivanov believes that such Russian confidence in the Indian government is not misplaced. "Under Russian law there has to be a final-user certificate for any finished product," Russian news agencies reported. This stipulation, regulating trade, will cover new agreements, though it is likely to exclude projects specified in the military-technical cooperation program until to 2010. "We have to reach the conclusion that that third country is not hostile either to India or Russia, and then assess from the financial point of view what is beneficial to us - to supply the output from Russia, or to produce it in India and sell it from there," Ivanov elaborated. Thus, the strength of Russian-Indian defense cooperation is not only growing, but acting as an incentive to widen further the quality and diversity of the product supplied. Russian diesel-powered submarines procured for the Indian Navy open up the military-technical and supply side of the market, which Moscow is keen to foster. Research and technology exchanges aimed at boosting this trade also contribute to an atmosphere of strategic partnership that makes it more likely that India will become inclined in the future to pay closer attention to Moscow's concerns about its activities in Central Asia. In this sense alone, Moscow will have little against India's hypothetical presence in Central Asia, and in the context of Moscow's recent backtracking over the election in Ukraine and fears within the Kremlin about yet more diminution of Russia's influence within the former Soviet Union, these moves towards an understanding with India indicate the scope and seriousness with which Russia is attempting to tighten up its military and security links with Central Asia.
This article originally appeared in Eurasia Daily Monitor, published by The Jamestown Foundation in Washington, DC., at (www.Jamestown.org). The Jamestown Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan organization supported by tax-deductible contributions from corporations, foundations, and individuals
On his first trip to India since the reelection of US President George W Bush, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld yesterday said his country wanted bilateral defence ties to be further "knitted" together.
Talking to reporters emerging from a 90-minute discussion with Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee here, Rumsfeld said "we had excellent discussion and we discussed all kinds of things that are important for our two ministries."
"We intend to see these ties further knitted together in coming months and years," the US Defence Secretary said a day after his arrival here.
Rumsfeld also held talks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Security Advisor J N Dixit later in the day.
The visit by the American defence secretary is his first since Congress-led government came to power in May this year after general elections.
Rumsfeld's trip to New Delhi takes place in the backdrop of India's concern over the US move to supply anti-tank missiles and maritime surveillance aircraft to Pakistan saying this could affect Indo-Pak dialogue process which is now at a very "sensitive" stage.
Natwar Singh told Parliament Wednesday that "in case the US supplies the weapons to Pakistan, India will not hesitate to ensure that our defence preparedness is not compromised in any manner."
Rumsfeld said India and US needed to develop "stronger and stronger cooperative relations" which has emerged in the last four years. He cited numerous defence interactions, joint military exercises and exchanges as an indication of growing relations between the two countries.
Mukherjee said the two countries had "useful discussions on issues of mutual interests".
Rumsfeld indicated the US considered India as a key partner by saying that he had chosen to visit the "world's greatest democracy" after attending the inauguration of first elected President in the history of Afghanistan Hamid Karzai. Noting that he was privileged to visit India, the US defence secretary said after assuming his office the first thing he had done was to meet the Indian representatives.
Rumsfeld and Mukherjee declined to say anything on the issues they discussed at their meeting. But according to officials India and the US are close to reaching an agreement on the US Navy providing assistance to Indian Navy submarines in case of distress in the high seas.
The two countries are also involved in a substantive dialogue over the supply of US controversial missile defence system based on Patriot missiles and Deep-Sea Rescue Vehicles.
The two countries recently agreed to explore cooperation in space research and civilian nuclear programmes.
The External Affairs Minister had told Parliament Wednesday that India has not given any commitment about its participation in the missile defence. The Left parties, which provide key support to Manmohan Singh government, have strongly opposed to India's joining the American missile defence shield.
Official Iranian sources are claiming that they have information about Pakistan and Saudi Arabia signing an agreement in 2003 in which Pakistan promised to help Saudi Arabia develop nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them.
The reports are coming out as Iran reached an agreement with the three European powers - the United Kingdom, Germany and France - about a cessation of uranium enrichment and the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of directors issues its report on Iran's nuclear activity.
The Iranian reports emphasize that the nuclear cooperation between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is at an advanced stage and that for the first time the Saudis have access to nuclear technology.
The international news agency United Press International (UPI) reported that Iranian Prof. Abu Mohammed Asgarkhani claimed in a lecture that Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear arms picked up after it learned about the Pakistani-Saudi deal and the possibility that Saudi Arabia would eventually acquire nuclear weapons.
Israeli and Western sources are not attributing much significance to the Saudi ability to develop, even partially, nuclear weapons.
Pakistan owes Saudi Arabia a great deal because Saudi Arabia essentially financed development of the Pakistani bomb. A Saudi representative may have been the only foreigner invited to visit Pakistan's nuclear facilities. Pakistan was also the middleman between Saudi Arabia and China for the purchase of long-range Chinese missiles. Those missiles, based in Saudi Arabia, have meanwhile become obsolete, and the Saudis want to upgrade them. The Americans told the Chinese that would be a violation of an agreement in which the Chinese promised not to sell missiles. The Chinese say it would not be a missile sale, but an upgrade of an existing missile sold a long time ago, but Washington remains opposed to the deal.
The Iranian reports about nuclear dealings between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is apparently motivated by Iran's interest in pointing out that other countries in the region are involved in military nuclear development and that they are not coming under international criticism because they are friends of the U.S.
Having gambled boldly on a Bush re-election, Pakistan's military ruler Pervez Musharraf arrived in holiday-season Washington on Saturday to cash in his chips - with little apparent success.
Musharraf called on Bush at the White House for his eighth meeting with the US President following a contrived refuelling halt in Washington after visits to Brazil, Argentina and Mexico earlier this week.
But the Bush administration shot down - at least publicly - hopes for F-16 fighter jets that Musharraf is desperately seeking, ahead of any other aid or item including education funds.
Bush however refuelled Musharraf with praise for his frontal role in the war on terror after his post 9/11 turnaround and his more recent withdrawal of troops from tribal areas bordering Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden is believed to be hiding.
"His army has been incredibly active and very brave... flushing out an enemy that thought they had found safe haven," Bush said in brief remarks at a photo-op.
He characterized Musharraf as a "determined leader to bring to justice not only people like Osama bin Laden but to bring to justice those would inflict harm and pain on his own people."
The reference seemed to relate to domestic terrorist groups in Pakistan which were once covertly patronized the establishment.
"I am very pleased with his efforts," the US President added. Bush fitted Musharraf into his schedule on a Saturday when he is slated to watch the annual Army-Navy football game.
But Musharraf's effort to ingratiate himself to Washington was upended by the US media, which cast doubts on his commitments to the war on terrorism.
The Associated Press wire service began its story saying "President Bush offered no criticism Saturday of Pakistan's role in the still-unsuccessful hunt for al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, even though Pakistan's army is pulling back from the region where the terrorist mastermind is believed hiding."
The Pakistani ruler also came up short in his effort to tie-up the Palestine and Kashmir issues. Ahead of his meeting with Bush, Musharraf had been presenting them as twin issues that needed to be resolved to address growing Muslim disquiet across the world.
Manmohan Singh is held largely responsible for bringing ‘economic revolution’ in India in the early 90s. Now, it appears his government is on the verge of bringing ‘diplomatic and strategic revolution.’
The events of the last few months indicate a fresh surge in activities toward building diplomatic and strategic ties with various important countries. Indo-US talks have reached the stage of producing a ‘blueprint’ towards building ‘next steps in strategic partnership’ (NSSP). Recently, the Indian Prime Minister attended the Indo-EU summit and an agreement was reached to forge a strategic partnership. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit confirms that the Indian leadership is expanding strategic cooperation, particularly in the defence sector, with Russia.
The Israeli deputy prime minister’s visit to India this month should be seen in the backdrop of this strategic reality. This visit is expected to give a new impetus to defence ties between the two countries. India is Israel’s second largest Asian trading partner, after China and South Korea. It appears Israel will now dominate in defence trade too. In all, 70% per cent of India’s military hardware is of Soviet origin and since the USSR’s 1991 breakup, army, navy and air force have been complaining of hiccups in the supply chain of spares from debt-ridden Russian armament factories. Probably, Israel intends to fill this void.
At the same time, Israel understands that India is looking towards the US, the EU and even partially towards resurgent Russia for future military procurements. Hence, Israel’s vice prime minister Ehud Olmert has a tough task ahead. But he seems to be prepared for the same. Earlier this year, Mr Olmert had called for the creation of a ‘trilateral fund’ between India, US and Israel to build upon advantages in the hi-tech sector and strengthen the ‘strategic triad’ at a trilateral conference in Israel. He feels that India and Israel are on common ground for high-tech ventures. The two sides are expected to set up a joint fund for research and development, particularly in the defence arena.
It is expected that Israel-India relations will be in the forefront despite political differences. This is because, apart from being one of the largest suppliers of cutting edge defence hardware to India, the two sides are also suffering from the menace of terrorism. Hence, there is much ground for cooperation in key areas like counter-terrorism and intelligence- sharing.
In the post-Cold War era, Israel has emerged as a leading arms supplier to India. Last year, India concluded a $30 million agreement with Israel Military Industries (IMI) for Tavor assault rifles, Galil sniper rifles, as well as night vision and laser range-finding and targeting equipment. In March 2004, Israel agreed to sell three Phalcon airborne early warning systems. Israel Aircraft Industries’ (IAI) ties with India are well-known. They have provided services for upgradation of the IAF’s Russian-made MiG-21 ground attack aircraft. Also, Israeli manufactured unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and laser-guided bombs are on the inventory of IAF.
India is in the process of acquiring state-of-the-art radar systems from Israel. Recently, the Indian navy conducted a four-day port call to Israel with two warships. This port call was a goodwill visit, signifying the warming up relationship between India and Israel and a step toward possible combined naval exercises and two-way technological transfers in the future. Training, operational work-ups, hardware and ship design are four areas where India sees its navy working more closely with the Israelis.
However, the Americans are yet to completely lift the post- Pokhran sanctions. Some Israeli products are the result of US-Israel joint collaborations and the US is putting pressure on Israelis for their proposed defence deals with India. Also, India intends to put mission system avionics purchased from Israel on a Russian airborne platform like IL-76s.
Managing defence procurement with Israel is not a big issue, but addressing the political fallout of such purchases is of greater significance. Already, the Americans have assured Pakistan a defence package of $1.3 billion. Till date, India has succeeded in pressuring Russia from developing an arms transfer relationship with Pakistan. Only, if India goes for major ties at the cost of the Russian defence industry, can it stop Russia from looking for alternatives?
The writer is a research fellow at Institute of Defence Studies and Analysis, Delhi. These are his personal views. He can be reached at email@example.com
Networking Weapons Is Indian Navy’s Priority: Chief
With a view to maintaining combat preparedness, the Indian Navy has set up a task force to network its static and floating assets.
“The networking and the weapon and sensor capability of the Indian Navy is the top priority area, and concrete steps are under way for its implementation from 2005,” Adm. Arun Prakash, service chief, told reporters here Nov. 30 as part of India’s annual Navy Day celebrations.
The Navy also intends to consolidate and strengthen maritime cooperation with Indian Ocean rim countries, Prakash said.
Under this plan, the Navy has agreed to train a large number of naval personnel from Sri Lanka and offered help with refit and maintenance of Sri Lankan ships at Indian dockyards.
Prakash said the Navy plans to extend support and supply of naval hardware and expertise to Myanmar as an initiative of the Indian government’s regional goodwill policy.
Prakash told DefenseNews.com on Nov.30 that with the U.S. decision to supply P-3 Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to Pakistan, the Navy will review its plan for proposed procurement of the same aircraft from the United States.
However, he disclosed that the Indian and U.S. navies likely would sign an agreement to ensure U.S. help for the Indian Navy in the event of a submarine disaster. The Indian Navy presently is upgrading 18 submarines but lacks submarine rescue facilities, Prakash said.
Indian Navy officials here said the service’s three commands, comprising a fleet of 145 warships, are in excellent operational shape.
During 2004, the Navy extended active naval cooperation to the maritime forces of Mozambique, Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Indonesia, patrolling their waters on the international boundary.
The Navy this year also conducted joint naval exercises with the U.S., French, Singaporean and U.K. navies.
India To Clinch French Sub Deal Next Year: Naval Chief
The Indian government is likely to give final approval early next year to a two billion euro ($2.5 billion) deal with a French firm for the building of six Scorpene submarines, the naval chief said Nov. 30.
Admiral Arun Prakash said the deal has been cleared by the defense and finance ministries and was awaiting final approval of the security cabinet, India’s highest strategic decision-making body headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
"We hope to get this cleared in 2005 because restoration of our submarine building capacity is our top priority," Prakash said, describing the Scorpene deal as a "much-delayed project."
Highly-placed Indian sources told Agence France-Presse the Scorpene deal was likely to be on the agenda of the security cabinet next February.
Other Indian sources said French state-owned shipbuilder Naval Constructions Directorate (DCN) would transfer technology to New Delhi which would then build the six 1,600-tonne submarines in India.
The vessels, although diesel-powered, could be adapted to fit a nuclear power unit, which matches India’s long-term defense strategy.
Prakash said the construction of the Scorpenes was part of the navy’s ambitious plans to induct a Soviet-era aircraft carrier, build a similar vessel here and acquire 19 other warships now under construction at various Indian shipyards.
He said the Indian navy had this year inducted three frigate-class ships -- one of them of Russian origin -- and two fast attack vessels in its fleet of warships.
Prakash also said the Russian aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, would be refurbished and handed over to the Indian navy on schedule by 2008.
Gorshkov, which joined the Soviet forces 18 years ago, would fill the vacuum left by the 1997 scrapping of India’s first aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, which had been in service since 1961.
The delivery will coincide with the mothballing of India’s remaining aircraft carrier, INS Viraat, four years later.
The admiral said the November 7 test-firing of a nuclear-capable missile from on-board a frigate offered India’s 137-ship navy a new dimension in strategic warfare.
"The proof of the concept is now established. It can now be carried and fired from a ship and how we use it is a different issue," Prakash said of the 350-kilometre (217-mile) range missile named Dhanush (Bow).
He also said the navy was also ready to induct BrahMos, a supersonic cruise missile jointly built with Russia, in all its new and old warships.
"Our maritime interests are vast and need protection.
"We have a 7,000-kilometre (4,340-mile) coastline, 1,200 islands and an economic zone of 2.01 million square kilometers (0.77 million square miles)."
"Ninety percent of India’s trade volume and 77 percent by value is sea-borne, much of it carried by Indian merchant vessels and naturally they need protection," the naval chief said.
The Indian Air Force is discussing a comprehensive plan to make its 29 operational squadrons more precision strike-capable.
If the plan is implemented fully, senior Air Force planners said, the service could multiply its strike capability by as much as five times in five to eight years without increasing the size of its combat fleet.
Each squadron includes 18 aircraft. The front-line fleet comprises Mirage 2000-H, MiG-29, Su-30 MKI and Jaguar aircraft, but the majority of squadrons still are equipped with second- and third-generation armaments.
Three years of hard labor have gone into the plan, which incorporates input from sources inside and outside the Air Force, the planners said. A final version was drafted late last month.
The plan is less a procurement road map for the service than a guideline for wisely spending annually allocated funds to enhance strike capability in phases, one senior Air Force official said.
The $250 million the Air Force intends to spend each year to accomplish its goals would be drawn from the service’s annual budget, the official said, so it will not be necessary to seek approval for new funds from the Defence Ministry.
Defense analyst Bhim Singh, a retired Air Force wing commander, said the service’s munitions are made up predominantly of dumb bombs, and the service urgently needs to acquire precision guided missiles, beyond-visual-range missiles and integral aircraft airborne radars.
“Future wars will not be fought like the earlier ones,” Singh said. “Electronic warfare, laser-guided bombs, smart ammunition are replacing conventional weapons, and so it is necessary for ordnance factories to exploit the latest technologies available in the world.”
The plan includes the induction of Popeye standoff weapons, probably for the Air Force’s Mirage, MiG-29 and Sukhoi squadrons.
Within the next 10 years, the service plans also to equip a majority of its 29 combat squadrons with all-weather capabilities, navigational attack systems and sensors in order to build an effective air operations network, according to the service’s plan. Most of the front-line combat fleet also will get self-protection suites, air-launched decoys and electronic warfare suites.
Air Force planners said the service also will provide for inducting sensors into most front-line combat aircraft between 2008-2012.
Sensors are the need of the hour for the Indian Air Force, which has lagged in acquiring new sensor technologies because of the slow pace of their development at Indian defense laboratories, the senior Air Force official said.
One of the plan’s greater thrusts would be to equip the front-line combat fleet with smart sensor systems such as intelligence suites, reconnaissance suites, electro-optical payloads, forward-looking infrared systems and directional infrared suites.
To make the fleet’s future air strike capability far superior to today’s, the Air Force official said the service also has proposed to the Defence Ministry equipping at least 10 squadrons with Shord short-range air defense missiles. The proposal is awaiting the ministry’s approval.
The Air Force also will modernize its fleet of Searcher, Mark-2 and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles with tactical precision guided munitions, such as Global Positioning System-guided systems, laser warning systems and infrared-TV systems for carrying out precise operations in mountainous regions, including the Kashmir valley bordering Pakistan.
A Defence Ministry official, however, revealed that plans already are under way to get smart munitions for the Air Force. He said negotiations are in progress with Israel to acquire fifth-generation missiles, including the Delilah-2 air-launched standoff missile.
The Air Force intends to mount missiles such as the Delilah-2 on both Mi-17 and Mi-24 helicopters for low-intensity air operations in areas such as the Kashmir valley.
The 400-pound Delilah-2 precision strike missile, with a range of 230 miles, is accurate within around 300 feet and loiters.
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Cooperative Cope Thunder
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