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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.
India, Russia Settle Frigate Delivery Dispute
After months of wrangling, India turned back on its decision to slap financial penalties on Russia for the delay in delivering three Project 11356 frigates under a 1997 contract, the maker Baltiisky Zavod said.

“This decision was reached during negotiations between representatives of the Indian Defence Ministry and Rosoboronexport,” the company said Jan. 11 in an official statement.

The agreement was signed late last year. Media have reported that India was planning to claim $40 million in damages from Russia.

“During the negotiations with the Indian side, we have resolved all the financial disagreements,” Oleg Shulyakovsky, the company’s general director, was quoted in the statement as saying. “Under the signed bilateral agreement, the customer does not have any claims against Baltiisky Zavod.”

The Indian Navy has expressed readiness to negotiate the construction of three more such frigates, Shulyakovsky said.

According to the statement, India’s Defence Ministry experts concluded that malfunctions in the Shtil-1 medium-range air defense missile system were the sole reason for the delay. The problems surfaced during the test-firing on the first frigate in May 2002. Further improvements and additional tests on the missile system affected the original delivery schedule.

The first and second frigates, Talwar and Trishul, were delivered in June 2003, and the final frigate, Tabar, was transferred to India in April, nearly a year later than planned.

The contract was estimated at $1 billion and was a breakthrough deal for the Russian naval industry.

Configured specifically for the Indian Navy, the frigates incorporate the most advanced Russian technologies and includes Indian navigation and communication systems.

Besides Shtil-1, it is fitted with eight vertical-launch Club-N anti-ship and anti-submarine missiles, Kashtan air defense missile guns, the Puma anti-aircraft gun and 100mm automatic guns. It also will also be armed with the Brahmos cruise missile, jointly developed and built by Russia and India.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:22 AM


Indian Army Special Ops Gain Troops, Command
The Indian Army’s special forces will get more troops, more money, and their own command, under a proposal expected to be approved soon by the Defense Ministry.

Under the new command — the Army’s seventh — the Special Forces are expected to grow from 5,000 troops to 20,000, with the extra soldiers being recruited from elsewhere in the 1.1-million-troop Army, an Army official said.

The new command will get money to buy the latest weapons and gear, said an MoD official, who said about $3 billion will be needed in the next five to seven years for that purpose. The Army has already sent the MoD a wish list that includes light combat vehicles, all-terrain utility vehicles, small laser-guided weapons, sniper rifles, Global Positioning System gear, digital cameras and remote detonating devices, he said.

The concept paper for creation of a Special Forces Command — which awaits the approval of the Defence Ministry — was drafted by Army Training Command in Shimla, the Army official said. Service and MoD sources say approval is expected and the command should be operational by early next year.

This is in line with the service’s two-month-old doctrine of increasing the military’s lethality and range, a second Indian ministry official said.

The new doctrine suggested focusing more on special forces, which can carry out operations swiftly over longer distances, under the assumption that future conflicts likely will erupt suddenly, be short in duration and fought at a high tempo and intensity.

Such conflict will require coordination between the land, naval and air forces, along with increased reliance on satellite communications, the second ministry official said.

Another 5,000 special forces troops are being trained at an undisclosed location, the Army official said. In the past, special forces have trained alongside American troops during exercises in Leh and Mizoram, he said.

Mahindra Choudhary, a defense analyst and retired Army major general, said the service is moving away from large purchases for conventional troops to free up procurement funds to equip more specialized forces. He said this shift, also in keeping with the new doctrine, is because India expects future battles to be swift and behind enemy lines.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:20 AM


India Tests Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile
India on Jan. 19 test-fired a short-range surface-to-air missile that can target aircraft and intercept sea-skimming missiles, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The home grown Trishul (Trident) missile was successfully tested from a mobile launcher at 12:53 p.m. (0723 GMT) in Chandipur, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Bhubaneshwar, capital of eastern Orissa state, the report said.

Trishul, one of five missiles developed by India since 1983, is powered by solid fuel and can deliver a 15-kilogramme (33-pound) warhead up to nine kilometers (five miles) away.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan frequently test-fire missiles they are developing for military purposes.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:19 AM


Israel Offers India Collaboration On Arjun, UAVs, Space Projects
Indo-Israeli defense trade — in a lull since the United Progressive Alliance government came to power in May — has new momentum, with Israel offering to collaborate on a number of projects with India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

An Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) official in New Delhi said Israel made an offer that includes joint development of some parts for the indigenous Arjun main battle tank; joint development of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), electronic warfare components and command-and-control systems; and collaboration on space-related nanotechnology efforts.

The offer is the result of a series of meetings between top Indian MoD officials and their Israeli counterparts over the past six months, ministry sources said. The most recent meeting took place in Tel Aviv in late December, when Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz hosted an eight-member Indian delegation led by his Indian counterpart, Ajai Vikram Singh.

Other areas of collaboration being discussed include an electro-optic package for India’s Nishant UAV, with the aim of extending the vehicle’s range to 150 kilometers, the Indian MoD official said.

The Nishant UAV went into limited production in December. It can fly at an altitude of 12,000 feet, has an endurance of 4.5 hours and a range of 100 kilometers. It can carry a 45-kilogram payload, said a DRDO scientist.

Israel is currently India’s sole source for UAVs, with purchases of dozens of Searcher-1, Searcher-2 and Heron aircraft since 1998. Another $200 million deal for 50 additional Heron medium-altitude, long-endurance UAVs is imminent, with contract signature expected in the next few weeks, according to Israeli government officials.

Israel’s government-owned Israel Military Industries (IMI) also is modernizing the trajectory system for DRDO’s multibarrel rocket launcher, the Pinaka. An Indian Army officer said the Pinaka can achieve only 80 percent of its specified range of 40 kilometers and needs greater accuracy.

“This is a program that is going very well,” IMI Chairman Arieh Mizrachi told Defense News.

Yet another major Indo-Israeli cooperative effort involves the construction of five chemical plants in India for production of ordnance. IMI announced Dec. 28 that it was selected for the estimated $126 million program, which requires the Ramat Hasharon firm to work with India’s largest government-owned company, the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), to establish all five plants within 24 months of contract signature.

Once finalized, IMI will provide to OFB all the technology and expertise the Israeli firm has accrued through similar projects for the Israeli military and Ministry of Defense, Mizrachi noted in his firm’s announcement last month.

Mizrachi on Jan. 20 estimated that up to 25 percent of all IMI exports are going to the Indian market.

Reaffirming the Relationship

Under the former National Democratic Alliance government, Israel emerged as India’s second largest supplier of weapons and equipment after Russia. Some analysts and defense officials in New Delhi had raised doubts shortly after elections in May that the United Progressive Alliance government — backed by left-leaning parties — would maintain those close ties to Tel Aviv.

India signed contracts averaging around $250 million to $400 million each year since 1999 for the purchase of Israeli weapons and equipment, including Barak ship-based anti-missile systems, UAVs, heavy mortars, ammunition, tactical communications gear, night-vision equipment and airborne- and ground-based targeting devices. In 2004, however, India accounted for about half of the more than $3 billion that Israel's MoD recorded in new orders for the year due to an estimated $1 billion contract for three airborne early warning and control aircraft for the Indian Air Force.

The Indian MoD official said there is no change in India’s posture on defense ties with Israel, adding that the latest plans for joint development of equipment represent a quantum leap forward in their relationship.

Another DRDO scientist said India would like to tap into Israel’s expertise in the field of sensors. The scientist also said India is developing a battlefield weapon-locating radar and is looking forward to Israel’s help.

Israel already is helping India develop upgraded avionics for Russian Su-30 MKI fighters as well as with modernization of MiG-27 fighters, Mi-18 helicopters, Jaguar aircraft and the Army’s 130mm artillery to 155mm guns, said the DRDO scientist.

Some of the weapons and equipment that could be contracted in the near future from Israel include Python-5 air-to-air missiles, additional phased-array radar similar to the ground-based Green Pine Radar already procured by New Delhi, advanced assault rifles and Galil sniper rifles, and joint development of night vision systems for ground troops and maritime patrol aircraft, said sources in the Indian MoD’s Procurement Department.

The momentum of fresh negotiations will ensure that the best equipment is available for the Indian Defence Forces, said Nitin Mehta, a defense analyst here. The next budget will make provisions for purchases from Israel, Mehta said.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:18 AM


India's US-Pakistan suspicions deepen
Two facts emerged in the space of a few days last week that have made India deeply suspicious of Washington's intentions in the region. One, US secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice told senators that the administration of President George W Bush has a "contingency plan" to prevent "Islamic fundamentalists" from getting access to Pakistan's nuclear weapons if "something happened" to Pakistani President General Pervez Musharraf and they succeeded in capturing power.

India had hardly finished munching on this revelation's mind-boggling implications for regional stability when another fact emerged. Award-winning journalist Seymour Hersh claimed in a New Yorker article, the substance of which was not refuted by Washington, that Musharraf is fully cooperating with the United States in penetrating Iranian soil and looking for sensitive nuclear-related sites with the help of highly sophisticated devices, so that at an appropriate time these can be destroyed by pinpoint air and missile attacks and deep-penetration commando strikes.

Hersh claimed that a US commando task force in South Asia is already working closely with a group of Pakistani scientists who had dealt with their Iranian counterparts earlier. This task force, aided by information from Pakistan, has been penetrating eastern Iran in a hunt for underground nuclear-weapons installations. In exchange for this cooperation, an intelligence official told Hersh, Musharraf has received assurances that his government will not have to turn over Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atomic bomb, to face questioning over his role in selling nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea.

India understood perhaps more than any other country the magnitude of danger to which all this exposes the Pakistani president. Handing over Pakistan's nuclear arsenal to the US, as Rice's statement in a formal confirmation hearing implied, is certainly not going to increase Musharraf's popularity rating either in the country at large or in the military he heads. Several army officers are even now facing trials in cases relating to two recent assassination attempts on the life of the Pakistani president in which he barely survived. It is an open secret that several Pashtoon officers in the Pakistan army are deeply unhappy with the president owing to his incursions into the Pashtoon-populated Waziristan areas of the North-West Frontier Province in a bid to find al-Qaeda leaders at the United States' behest. This had never happened before, not even when the region was under British control. Pashtoons have the second-largest presence in the Pakistani military after the Punjabis. Several hundred Pakistani soldiers died battling their own people in the area without achieving any appreciable success. Top al-Qaeda leadership, likely hiding in the area, continues to remain intact, forcing the US recently to double the bounty on Osama bin Laden's head.

The impact of Musharraf's involvement in US Special Forces penetration in Iran is going to be even more devastating. This would particularly outrage the influential Shi'ite population in Pakistan. Though a minority of just about 20% in the country, the Shi'ites are influential in the Pakistani military, particularly in the air force. Many believe that Shi'ite air force officers had a hand in the assassination - though officially declared an accidental helicopter crash - of former president General Zia-ul-Haq. Shi'ites were angry with him for the repression he had unleashed on the Shi'ites in the Northern Areas of Pakistan. The army commando officer who had actually led the repression was none other than then-brigadier and now general and president Pervez Musharraf. Clearly no love is lost between the Shi'ite officers and Musharraf. How the present revelations regarding US penetration into Iran with his help will affect them can hardly be in much doubt.

Already marked for assassination by Islamic extremists, with help from elements in the army he heads, why would Musharraf put his neck even further on the chopping block? What has the ever-generous US offered him now? Can this be best explained by what veteran Indian columnist Inder Malhotra calls America's "mammoth munificence" toward Pakistan? Or is there more to it than meets the eye?

Clearly, as a major regional power, India cannot remain indifferent to what Malhotra called "these dangerous goings on". But what exactly are India's worries? It might not be such a bad thing after all, some strategists feel, if the US rather than Muslim extremists control Pakistan's nuclear arsenal in the event "something happens" to President Musharraf. Opposition Islamist leader Maulana Fazlul Rehman, the redoubtable mentor of the Taliban, does indeed remain a serious candidate for the position of prime minister in the present political configuration of the National Assembly.

But what would be the point of the US providing Pakistan with credible delivery systems, such as F-16s, for its nuclear bombs, particularly if it is worried about something happening to its best bet in the country? India has been told that the decision to supply F-16s to military-ruled, Islamist Pakistan cannot be reversed. US officials are reported to have told their Indian counterparts that the number of F-16s supplied to Pakistan could be as high as 70, and not 18 as was previously expected. And this in the face of long-standing objections from India, a strategic US ally and a natural partner as the biggest secular democracy on Earth. And also this decision has been made at a time when Musharraf, as a former high-level Pakistani diplomat told Seymour Hersh, has authorized the expansion of Pakistan's nuclear-weapons arsenal.

India has not forgotten that last year Musharraf became the first and so far only South Asian leader to be welcomed at Camp David in the United States. Even the person hailed then as a statesman, former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, was not offered this honor. President Bush announced a US$3 billion package of military and economic aid to Pakistan, the first installment of which has already been sanctioned by the US Congress. Not long afterward, Pakistan was given the status of a major non-North Atlantic Treaty Organization ally, making it eligible for more military assistance.

So what is the real extent of US largess to Pakistan since September 11, 2001? US-based Indian analyst Kaushik Kapisthalam recently came out with a study being widely quoted in the Indian media. According to him, the US provided Pakistan with $600 million in emergency assistance to save Islamabad from defaulting on repayment of foreign loans. This was followed by the writing off of $1.5 billion of Pakistani debt, pressure on the International Monetary Fund to pay more than $1.5 billion for poverty reduction, pressure on Western donors for rescheduling the bulk of Pakistan's $38 billion external debt, and annual economic assistance of $500 million to $700 million.

Pakistan received a total of more than $1.1 billion in military and economic assistance in 2002 alone. It also received $1.32 billion in military assistance between January 2003 and September 2004. Meanwhile, the United States pays Pakistan $100 million every month for using military bases and facilities on Pakistani territory.

Another and even more suspicious aspect of US behavior toward Pakistan is what strategic analyst G Parthasarathi, a former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan, calls "an astonishing measure of American forbearance in dealing with a Pakistani terrorist involved in kidnapping American tourists in India, killing an American journalist in Karachi, the [September 11] attacks on New York and Washington and the attack on our parliament". Parthasarathi is referring to Omar Sheikh Mohammad, who was released from an Indian jail in Kashmir along with two other prominent terrorists and escorted to Kabul by then Indian external affairs minister Jaswant Singh as a deal to save the lives of the passengers of Indian Airlines flight IC814 that had been hijacked from Kathmandu and taken to Kabul. Sheikh was later arrested for his involvement in the murder of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi and sentenced to death.

Parthasarathi documents the instances of US forbearance toward this terrorist. Even though sentences of anti-terrorism courts in Pakistan are expeditiously confirmed and implemented, he says, Sheikh's appeal still lies pending. Eyebrows were raised when Sheikh surrendered to an Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) official, Brigadier Ejaz Shah, in Lahore and not to the police. Shah was known to be a protege of generals Musharraf and Aziz Khan.

Shah's subsequent nomination as high commissioner to Australia was rejected by the Australian government. He is now Pakistan's ambassador to Indonesia. What is interesting to note is that ambassadorial appointments are normally given in Pakistan to retired generals and not low-ranking ISI brigadiers.

It has now been reported by a respected Lahore-based Pakistani journalist, Amir Mir, continues Parthasarathi, that during his interrogation by US and Pakistani investigators, Sheikh revealed that he had been on the payroll of the Pakistani ISI and that the terrorist attacks on the Kashmir State Assembly building in October 2001 and the Indian parliament in December 2001 had the backing of the ISI.

Amir Mir has also confirmed that Sheikh transferred a sum of $100,000 that had been provided to him by then ISI chief General Mahmood Ahmed to Mohammad Atta - the leader of the hijackers involved in the September 11 terrorist attacks. He also alleges that the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) believes that Omar met Atta during one of his visits to Kandahar and knew of his plans for the September 11 terrorist strikes. On October 9, 2001, the Pakistani daily Dawn reported that the ISI director general, Lieutenant-General Mahmoud Ahmed, was fired after FBI investigators established a link between him and a $100,000 wire transfer to Atta in the summer of 2000. This report was also carried by the Wall Street Journal. Parthasarathi's comment: "There does appear to be a conspiracy of silence on this score, because Syed Omar Sheikh is evidently a man who knows too much and can embarrass both the Musharraf dispensation and the Bush administration."

Meanwhile, Indian suspicions at these intriguing developments between Pakistan and the US are continuing to deepen. What exactly is Washington's game in South Asia? What used to be muted speculation confined to living rooms in Delhi is now being articulated. To the question of why Musharraf is putting his life on line for the sake of the US in such a blatant fashion, for instance, Malhotra answers: "The obvious answer is that Musharraf expects to extract from the US a far higher price than he has received so far. What can that price be? This, dear Watson, is elementary. For a man who hopes to go down in history as the leader who achieved Pakistan's objectives in Kashmir, he needs America's powerful support for an Indo-Pakistani agreement on Kashmir that 'does justice to Pakistan'. War can never attain this result, and what has been lost on the battlefield cannot be won back at the conference table."

India has been agonizing over the real nature of US-Pakistan relations for years. After September 11, New Delhi expected Washington to come down hard on Pakistan, known to be a hub of Islamic extremism and terrorism in the region. Instead, the US came to the rescue of what was then a clearly failing state under a blatant military dictatorship. Even after facts of Pakistani intelligence's involvement in September 11 came to light, the US has been not only forgiving but supportive to an extraordinary degree. As a result, Indian strategists are now finding it difficult to counter conspiracy theorists who continue to claim that the "war on terrorism" is mere shadow-boxing and that September 11 had been organized by Islamabad with the help of al-Qaeda at US behest after the neo-conservatives ruling the US needed a pretext for fulfilling their imperialist agenda. There used to be few takers for such wild imaginings in India; but apparently things are changing. There are too many discrepancies and inconsistencies in official US claims that even the most incredible conspiratorial claims are beginning to gain credence.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:14 AM


India Tests Short-Range Surface-to-Air Missile

India on Jan. 19 test-fired a short-range surface-to-air missile that can target aircraft and intercept sea-skimming missiles, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

The home grown Trishul (Trident) missile was successfully tested from a mobile launcher at 12:53 p.m. (0723 GMT) in Chandipur, 200 kilometers (125 miles) northeast of Bhubaneshwar, capital of eastern Orissa state, the report said.

Trishul, one of five missiles developed by India since 1983, is powered by solid fuel and can deliver a 15-kilogramme (33-pound) warhead up to nine kilometers (five miles) away.

Nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan frequently test-fire missiles they are developing for military purposes.


Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 9:01 AM


DRDO: A stellar success
The Indian media's DRDO bash-fest usually keeps a laser-like focus on the alleged failures of DRDO, like the Arjun tank and the Trishul missile system.

But the reader may be surprised to know that there is a whole slew of DRDO designed and developed products that have proved to be a big hit with the armed services, in addition to saving the exchequer of many crores of rupees. Let us look at some specific examples.

When it comes to military modernisation, some of the priciest systems to modernise are radars, detection and surveillance and electronic warfare equipment. Most cutting edge technologies are simply not available in the market while the available technology is prohibitively expensive.

So how did DRDO respond to the Indian requirements in the above area?

In January 2004, the Indian Army accepted the Samyuktha electronic warfare (EW) system developed by DRDO.

Consisting of 145 vehicles with various subsystems, the Samyuktha provides the army with the ability to detect and jam enemy communications, monitor movements -- an ability that only a few select nations possess. In fact, even though the US imposed sanctions in 1998 could have impaired the Samyuktha project, DRDO scientists overcame the obstacles to develop this state of the art system.

The advanced phased-array radar associated with the Samyuktha, called the Rajendra, was also indigenously developed by DRDO. The Rajendra radar is also part of the Akash medium range surface-to-air missile system, which is currently undergoing advanced trials with the army and air force. A 3D Central Acquisition Radar (3DCAR) is also undergoing trials with users.

DRDO has also leveraged the Rajendra project to develop an advanced Weapon-Locating Radar (WLR), the likes of which would have been invaluable in a war like Kargil, where the Pakistanis had American WLRs and the Indian Army lacked a similar product.

The EW suites for the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force, titled Sangraha and Tempest respectively, have also met with great success.

For instance, the Tarang Radar Warning Receiver (RWR), a key aircraft EW component, has been successfully installed in the upgraded IAF MiG-21 fighters, the MiG-27 strike planes and the incomparable Su-30MKI air-dominance fighters. Another EW component, the Tusker Electronic Counter Measures (ECM) pod, is also in IAF service.

In fact, the IAF has been a happy DRDO customer for a long time and now routinely relies on local innovations in the fields of avionics, radar and communications.

The Su-30MKI, for instance is a cut above the similar Su-30MKK that the Russians developed for China because the former relies on cutting edge Indian components such as the Mission Computer, Display Processor, Radar Computer, Integrated communication equipment, Radar Altimeter and Programmable Signal Processors, all designed and developed by DRDO under a project titled 'Vetrivale.'

This avionics suite, built locally, costs less than 20 per cent of Western made systems, which may not even offer the same level of technology to the IAF. The Russians were so impressed by the Vetrivale avionics that they asked to incorporate some of the technology to the Su-30 variants they sold to Malaysia.

DRDO technology was also used in IAF's local upgrade efforts of the MiG-27 and Jaguar strike aircraft, saving millions of dollars in foreign exchange. The IAF has also lavishly praised and ordered DRDO developed Indra-II advanced low-level detection radar.

The IAF is widely using the indigenous multi-mission Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), named Dhruv, developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited with support from DRDO. Dhruv has won international accolades and have evoked interest from nations like Chile. It recently set a world record by flying at an altitude of 27,000 feet above mean sea level. The Indian Army and Indian Navy are also acquiring purpose-built Dhruv variants.

The biggest IAF system built by DRDO is the Light Combat Aircraft. While a detailed analysis of the LCA project is beyond the scope of this article, one can safely say that the LCA is a definite success for Indian aviation and has silenced all detractors, at least the ones who stick to facts.

The LCA has also resulted in spin-offs such as the Sitara Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), which was built from scratch in a record time of 22 months and has received accolades from the end user. Efforts are now underway to build an indigenous Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and a small indigenous Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS).

The Indian Navy has even more enthusiastically embraced DRDO products.

Many navy vessels such as the Rajput class and Veer class ships use DRDO's Ajanta Electronic Support Measures (ESM) system. Under the Sangraha EW program, DRDO has completed the development of five types of EW systems. Sanket, an ESM system for patrol boats has already been ordered by the navy. An airborne EW system called KITE has also been successfully tested.

The navy is also testing submarine EW systems, all developed under the Sangraha project. Essentially, thanks to DRDO, the Indian Navy now has airborne, surface ship borne and submarine electronic warfare systems. Given the fact that Pakistan is getting advanced naval reconnaissance systems from the US under the guise of the war on terror, DRDO's work in the Naval EW area goes beyond the savings of millions of dollars.

DRDO has also produced the APSOH, Nagan, Ushus, Humsa and Panchendriya (submarine) sonars for the Indian Navy as well as the SV-2000 maritime patrol radar and the Mihir Sonar for the naval version of the Dhruv helicopter. A lightweight torpedo for helicopter and ship launched attacks on submarines, developed by DRDO, has also been recently cleared for production.

The lethal BrahMos, which is the world's only supersonic stealth cruise missile, was jointly developed by DRDO with Russia. The BrahMos is deadlier than the American Tomahawk missile which flies at a sub-sonic speed. DRDO's contribution to BrahMos includes the onboard navigation system, onboard computer, electronics, fire control system, software and some parts of the propulsion system.

In general, one can see that the navy and air force, which usually don't have the army's big budget to go shopping abroad for everything, have developed an excellent working relationship with DRDO to get whatever they can locally and are satisfied with the results.

Despite the well-publicised 'failings' of the Arjun, the army too has silently built up fruitful partnership with DRDO agencies for systems that are unavailable overseas and India-specific assets for use in counter-insurgency and high-altitude operations.

For instance, the army's aviation wing recently decided to trim its purchase of foreign-made high-altitude helicopters from 198 to 35, reducing the expected bill from $440 million to $80 million, and procure the HAL Dhruv because of the Dhruv's excellent high-altitude performance.

The 5.56mm INSAS fixed-butt rifle, which has been put through one of the most gruelling series of user trials in the history of small arms development, has become a mainstay of the Indian infantry since 1997, with lakhs of units in service. Other versions of the INSAS are now being inducted as well.

The Army has also inducted many counter-insurgency assets developed by DRDO. They include Sujav, a frequency jamming equipment and Safari, a jamming device for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

The indigenous battery-powered man portable battlefield surveillance radar (BFSR-SR) weighing 27kg was developed by DRDO in a short period of 24 months. It is capable of detecting crawling men at 500 metres, moving groups of people at 5 km and a group of vehicles at 10 km -- a tremendous asset along the Line of Control with Pakistan.

The army has also ordered DRDO's Nishant Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV), which is fully capable of instantly providing time-sensitive battlefield intelligence to field commanders.

Other unheralded DRDO products for the army include the lethal Pinaka Multi-Barrel Rocket Launcher, the Shakti Artillery Combat Command Control System which connects massed artillery guns and makes them 10 times more effective, the Lakshya pilotless target aircraft, the Bridge Layer Tank on a T-72 chassis, the Sarvatra multi-span bridge, various combat simulators, a mobile Nuclear, Biological and Chemical (NBC) decontamination system -- all of which are in production or already in service.

These form just a part of DRDO's products that have proven to be successful with the defence services. Yet all we hear in our media is an endless stream of negativity about India's Defence R&D efforts.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:56 AM


India, Israel to conduct military exercise
LONDON: India and Israel have agreed to fulfill a number of bilateral equipment deals and conduct a joint air manoeuvres later this year as a mark of their burgeoning defence ties, a leading defence weekly has claimed.

The third joint working group at its meeting in Tel Aviv in December 2004 discussed New Delhi purchasing Israel Aircraft Industries Heron II medium-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles and jointly extending the range of the Barak point defence system for the Indian Navy, the Jane's Defence Weekly, said in its latest issue.

The two sides also agreed to hold joint exercises in which Israeli F-16 multi-role fighters will be pitted against India's Russian-made Sukhoi Su-30Mk1 multi-role fighters. The venue and schedule of the manoeuvres is yet to be disclosed.

The eight-member Indian delegation led by Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh met Israeli Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz and Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Defence Amos Yaron. He concerns that New Delhi's security relations with Tel Aviv would decline under the UPA government that assumed office in May last year, the report said.

The Indian delegation also discussed the possible procurement by the Indian Army of El-Op's Portable Lightweight Laser Designator currently undergoing trials at Pokhran in Rajasthan.

The Israeli system is being tested alongside a rival product by CILAS, part of European defence concern EADS. Six El-Op PLLD systems have been in service with the Indian Air Force for almost three years, the defence weekly reported.

Indian army wants 90 PLLD systems worth about 266 million dollars (Rs 1.20 billion) before considering the purchase of Israel Aircraft Industries' (IAI) Laser Homing Anti-Tank guided missile, it quoted official sources as saying.

India had ordered 1,000 rounds of Russian 155 mm Krasnopol-M laser-guided artillery projectiles and associated tripod-mounted designators for Rs.1.5 billion in 1999 for use with Bofors 155mm FH-77B howitzers. It wants to augment its reserves by acquiring a similar number.

According to the report the future of a delayed contract to supply the Indian Army with Heron II UAVs was also raised during the talks.

Price negotiations for 12 Heron II UAVs was concluded more than a year ago for about Rs.12 billion, but the deal awaits final clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security.

IAI also plans on retrofitting the Indian Air Force Cheetah light helicopters with a new electronic warfare suite, day-and-night observation capability and a flexible armament carrying system, all of which are fitted to the Dhruv, India's indigenously designed and built advanced light helicopter.

The single Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built Dhruv that IAI has acquired for an unspecified amount to transport VIPs and Israel Defence Force personnel is scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv later this month, the report said.

The report also said IAI was committed to reciprocal procurement of indigenously developed military equipment from New Delhi following India's purchase of the Phalcon airborne early-warning system last year.

Israel has also offered to upgrade the Indian Navy's Tu-142 maritime patrol aircraft in a tripartite agreement with Russia but the latter has, for now, stalled the process, the report said quoting military sources.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:53 AM


Indian Defence Minister Defends Kashmir Withdrawal

Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Jan. 18 defended the decision to cut the number of troops in Kashmir, saying the level of rebel infiltration did not warrant army reinforcements.
“The decision (to pull back troops) was taken in the context of a particular situation. It is always subject to review,” Mukherjee told reporters in New Delhi. “If the number of infiltrators (into Kashmir) increases or the situation deteriorates, of course there will be a review of this decision.”
India has not specified how many troops have been pulled out since announcing the move in November.

A first batch of 1,000 paratroopers pulled out of Indian Kashmir on Nov. 17, during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s maiden visit there.

India, which holds two-thirds of the Muslim-majority region, accuses Pakistan of arming rebels and helping them cross the de facto border, the Line of Control. Pakistan denies the charge and says it is doing its best to stop infiltration.

Indian army officials say infiltration has fallen considerably since the two countries launched a peace process a year ago. They add that the building of a fence with hi-tech surveillance has also helped cut infiltration — a view Mukherjee repeated Jan. 18.

The minister told reporters that a recent spurt in rebel attacks in Kashmir “are not enough reason” to send troops back to the region. “They (attacks) are also not due to troop reduction.”
In recent weeks, Islamic militants have killed two senior political figures, bombed an election rally killing two and injuring a dozen, raided the federal income tax and passport offices and targeted several security patrols.

More than 40,000 people have been killed in Kashmir since the outbreak of an anti-India rebellion in 1989. Separatists put the toll at twice that number.


Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 2:30 AM


F-16 Sales to Pakistan Would Be Opposed: Lawmakers
Any proposal by the United States government to sell F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan would be met with strong opposition in Congress, two Democratic lawmakers and members of a pro-India lobby group said here Jan. 13.

U.S. Sen. Jon Corzine (D.-N.J.) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D.-N.J.) were in New Delhi to meet with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as part of a four-nation tour of countries hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

The two discussed defense issues with Singh such as the Indian navy’s cooperation in relief efforts, but not a possible sale of the advanced fighter jets to Pakistan.

Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf reportedly asked to buy as many as 25 F-16 fighter jets when he visited Washington and met President George W. Bush in December.

“There would be substantial opposition in Congress if the administration proposes the sale of F-16s,” Pallone said.

“I don’t see how the F-16s can be used for anything but offensive purposes. I don’t think they’ll get it,” he added.

Sales of new weapons that could upset the balance of power in the volatile South Asian region have rankled both countries with Pakistan concerned India could get Patriot missiles and India concerned about possible sales of fighter jets and naval surveillance aircraft to Pakistan.

Pallone said that fighter jets would “most likely be used against India and other countries” and would be inappropriate to sell considering the recent revelations of the sale of nuclear weapons-related materials to other countries by the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb, A. Q. Khan.

Corzine said Pakistan remains an important ally in the American-led war on terrorism and the United States needed to support the country in that effort.

“We certainly need the cooperation,” he said. “But I don’t think that leads to the sale of F-16s.”

Pallone belongs to the 186-member India Caucus in the 545-seat House of Representatives, and Corzine belongs to the 32-member counterpart in the 100-seat Senate, which is co-chaired by Hillary Clinton. Both congressmen oppose the sale of F-16s to Pakistan.

After waiving sanctions related to India’s May 1998 nuclear tests, the U.S. is considering selling the Patriot, a ground-based missile system offering defense against ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft, to the country for its support of a proposed global missile shield.

Pakistan received a similar nuclear test sanctions waiver for its support in the war on terrorism and was awarded major non-NATO ally status.

The two nuclear-armed countries, which have fought three wars in the past half-century, are in peace talks over the disputed Himalayan state of Kashmir but at the same time are developing new medium- and long-range missile systems.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:24 AM


India’s New Air Chief Pushes Indigenous Materiel
India’s new Air Force chief says he will push to buy and build more arms and defense gear at home.

“Indigenization is the destiny for the Indian Air Force,” said Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi, who took his post Jan. 1.

The stance is in line with other moves by the seven-month-old United Progressive Alliance government, and a sharp departure from the previous National Democratic Alliance government, which signed deals to buy arms and defense gear worth more than $4 billion between February 2003 and March 2004.

An Indian Defence Ministry official said the government is putting extra emphasis on homegrown weapon technology. It intends to approve the proposal of Bangalore-based Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. to produce the Advanced Jet Trainer. The Air Force wants more than 100 of the trainers, an Air Force official said.

The Medium Combat Aircraft (MCA), a two-year-old Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) proposal, also will likely move forward with the long-delayed delivery of Air Force requirements to the ministry, the Air Force official said. The MCA is slated to replace the Air Force’s British Jaguars and the Mirage 2000-H aircraft.

But Tyagi also said he would continue his predecessor’s acqui-sition plans and other policies.

His remarks came after the government’s decision last September to go ahead with the homegrown mini-Airborne Warning and Control System program by the DRDO.

The government also is moving on with the estimated $9 billion purchase of 126 multirole combat aircraft for the Air Force, which was initiated by the preceding government. A Request for Information was sent in December to Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG, Saab of Sweden, and Dassault of France.

But one analyst said the new emphasis on homegrown planes likely would doom the purchase of foreign multirole aircraft. Past deals for Hawk trainers and Phalcon surveillance aircraft suggest that it will take more than five years to seal a multirole deal, during which time DRDO will be pushing its MCA, said Bhim Singh, a retired Indian Air Force wing commander and defense analyst.

Some wonder whether India’s miltary can afford to rely on homegrown projects to arm its Air Force. The service needs to replace half of its 350 planes and is seriously short of spare parts for half of the planes, said Air Force sources.

DRDO’s record of timely production is blemished; the Light Combat Aircraft, for example, is a decade behind schedule. One Air Force official admitted that the track record of homegrown technologies is not very favorable. The 1985 plan to field the Nag anti-tank missile and the Trishul theater missile in the early 1990s was not achieved; the weapons are still in the test stage.

But the Air Force official noted that India built half its Air Force’s planes, including MiG-21s and -27s, under license from Russia.

Indian Defence Ministry sources say the drive to build weapons in India would make licensed production of Russian weapons more attractive.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:22 AM


Showdown Looms for Hopefuls In Indian Air Competition
Two Indian Air Force teams will fly to France and Israel next month to test air defense systems offered by MBDA and Rafael for India’s Low Level Quick Reaction Missile program.

The firms are the finalists in a competition launched last year to buy an unspecified number of systems for $325 million. Other participants included firms from France, Israel, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

India began looking to foreign firms after its homegrown Trishul was rejected by the Army, Navy and Air Force, said an Indian Defence Ministry official.

The Air Force owns about 100 Russian OSA self-propelled anti-aircraft integrated systems, including missile guiding racks and target-detection radars.

Indian Air Force sources said an upgraded OSA was tested in 2002 at India’s Interim Test Range at Chandipur in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, but no details were available.

The Trishul program was launched in 1984 by India’s state-owned defense research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, but the missile failed to hit targets on the nine-kilometer range in more than two dozen tests over the last two years, an Air Force official said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:21 AM


India to relocate air force bases
The Indian air force, worried about its installations on the tsunami-devastated Nicobar Islands, plans to relocate some of them to the Indian mainland.

Vice Admiral Raman Puri said that the air force is scouting for mainland areas after the tsunami devastated some of its installations on Car Nicobar, the Indian Express reported Saturday.

Recently the Indian government, criticized for restricting aid agencies on the distressed islands, cited security concerns as one of the major reasons for the restrictions.

The location of the bases is advantageous because it gives India a strong defensive position in Southeast Asia, the BBC reported Friday. The southernmost island is just 94 miles from Indonesia's Sumatra and the northernmost fewer than 31 miles from the Coco Islands controlled by Burma.

According to Puri, the military forces are currently focusing on helping to restore electricity, shelter, healthcare and schooling to the islands' tsunami victims.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:20 AM


Rise of China will push India and US closer
The rise of China and India as major powers by 2020, as predicted by a US intelligence report, is good news for growing Indis-US relations.

In a scenario where China emerges as a superpower and thus a potential threat to the US' sole superpower status, the US will team up with India to counter China's ambitions, said K Subrahmanyam, top strategy expert, here Monday.

"It is inevitable that India and the US will come together under pressures of mutuality of interest," said Subrahmanyam, who headed the Kargil panel appointed by the former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government. He was speaking at a seminar organised by SAPRA India Foundation, a think tank on security and strategic issues, on the future of India-US relations.

Enthusiastically endorsing this vision of India and the US morphing into natural allies, Ram Narayanan, an activist who has spawned a worldwide net of friends of India through his website, expounded passionately on "the inevitability of a solid and comprehensive US-India strategic partnership."

Said Narayanan: "If the US does not want to surrender its current position in world affairs to China, it must have a close partnership with India. For this marriage of commitment to happen, it is entirely up to the US to say yes, to wear the ring on its finger."

Outlining the synergies and congruencies between India and the US, Subrahmanyam said: "Geography has placed India and the US together. There is a 12-hr time difference between the US and India. When America goes to sleep, India can take the work forward and vice versa.

The combination of the US and India can generate maximum efficiency in the area of intellectual labour. India's growing middle class market and its awesome brainpower will prove added attractions to the US, he said.

"The only way the US can sustain its power is by retaining its dominance of the knowledge industry. For the US' dominance to continue, the US has to ensure that its brainpower doesn't fall below that of Europe or China. Importing brains from India will be a major stimulant of US-India relations," said Subrahmanyam.

There were also some critical notes in this predominantly melodious rendition of the US-India relations. Former Indian high commissioner to Pakistan G Parthasarathy stressed the need for a more proactive involvement of 1.7 million Indians settled in the US in influencing perceptions of India with American policy makers.

"Instead of being obsessed with photo-ops in the media, the Indian American community can play a far bigger role in promoting a better understanding of India," said the senior diplomat.

While ruling out a defence alliance, former Indian Army chief Gen V.P. Malik spoke of deepening of ties between the US and India as a continuous process.

In the end, what emerged from a multiplicity of opinions was an overwhelming consensus on taking the US-India relations forward. But one thing is certain: whichever way global power relations finally shape up, India's relationship with the US will be central to the balance of power.

Narayanan's aggressively optimistic vision will probably find more converts in the US strategy establishment. "If the US does not wish to end up playing second fiddle in a global orchestra, it is very very clear what she needs to do. And who she needs to do it with."


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:19 AM


Pak to press US for sale of F-16s
Pakistan would strongly press for the sale F-16 fighter planes, capable of delivering nuclear weapons, during the US-Pakistan Defence Consultative Group (DCG) meeting to be held here in the first week of next month.

"Pakistan will also press for its legitimate defence requirements,particularly the sale of advanced weapon systems, including F-16 fighter aircraft, repair and upgradation of existing systems and licences for the import of spares," officials were quoted as saying by local daily 'Dawn' here.

The DCG meeting would be held here from February one to four and would be co-chaired by US Under Secretary of Defence Douglas J. Feith and Pakistani Defence Secretary Lt-Gen (retired) Hamid Nawaz Khan.

This is the first DCG meet after the US granted Major Non NATO ally status to Pakistan, which officials here claim helps in faster clearance of weapons for the country.

"The US administration is more sensitive to our defence requirements and we hope the trend will continue," Pakistan officials said.

The US recently cleared USD 1.3 billion defence package for Islamabad which included three P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft but was silent on Pakistan's persistent demand for a fleet of F-16s.

The DCG working groups on military cooperative consultations, counter-terrorism and security assistance would review the progress of defence cooperation and identify and plan new activities for the future Pakistan Air Force, (PAF) has about 30 F-16 aircraft given in late 80s and Islamabad has been scouting for latest F-16s capable of delivering nuclear weapons.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:18 AM


US-India ties may turn out to be less stable
The National Intelligence Council (NIC) has expressed that US relations with India may turnout to be 'less stable' and New Delhi's democratic character may make it difficult for Washington to deal with it in future.

A discussion paper that has emerged out of a seminar on Asian Responses to the US held by the NIC, on which all US intelligence agencies were represented, has said that US relations with India may turnout to be less stable and less predictable version of American relations with France.

"Ironically, India's democratic character may make it difficult for the US to deal with it in the future, partially because of the individuals that may be involved and partially because of structure."

There are a number of questions that need to be answered in order to understand India's emerging place in the world.

First, what is India's commitment to multipolarism? Second, what does India want, tangible gains or prestige? Third, is India obsessed with being autonomous and, if so, what are the implications of that?" the paper said.

The paper also casts doubt on the quality of Indian democracy saying India is not seen as a great democracy because the society still retains many of the vestiges of its historic feudal system.

The discussion paper emerged out of a seminar held on November 24, 2003 under the sponsorship of the NIC, but only published now.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:15 AM


IAF earns kudos for Sri Lanka relief operations
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has earned kudos from Sri Lanka for its operations in the wake of the tsunami disaster, having flown over 300 sorties to airlift relief materials and to rescue hundreds of stranded people.

Complimenting the role of India's armed forces in relief operations in the island nation, Capt. R.C. Wijegunaratne, defence attaché at Sri Lanka's high commission here, said: "The speed with which the Indian government reacted and IAF in particular, proved instrumental in saving many lives especially within the first 24 hours of the disaster striking."

The IAF and Indian Navy launched relief operations in Sri Lanka soon after the tsunami struck Dec 26.

In spite of having lost manpower and resources at its strategic Car Nicobar base, where about 100 IAF personnel and their family members were killed or reported missing, the air force rushed into the relief operations.

Communication, road and rail links were cut off in Sri Lanka, and it was only through the assistance of the IAF that supplies and relief materials could reach affected people in time, said an IAF spokesman.

In Sri Lanka, the IAF has carried out 335 sorties and airlifted 175 tonnes of materials with six Mi-17 helicopters. An Il-76 heavy transport aircraft has carried out 13 sorties to airlift 209 passengers and 220 tonnes of supplies.

These supplies comprised food, water, tents, generators and medicines.

The IAF also rescued 625 people from tsunami-affected areas of Galle, Minnerya, Kattunajke, Ratmalana and Trincomalee.

The IAF is operating its Mi-17s from the air force bases at Minnerya and Kattunake, the spokesman said.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:53 AM


India To Fly New LCA Prototype at Aero India 2005
The homegrown Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) under development will enter a new phase next month with the launch of the plane’s fourth prototype.

The LCA prototype will fly Feb. 9-13 in the Aero India 2005 International Air Show at Bangalore, said a senior scientist with the Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA). ADA is designing and developing the LCA under the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

So far, the three prototypes of the multirole, lightweight, supersonic LCA have completed a total of 300 flight hours. The third prototype, known as PV-1, made its first flight at subsonic speed last year.

The ADA scientist said that two more prototypes will be added to the LCA fleet in February.

The LCA, already behind schedule by more than 10 years, now is scheduled to be inducted into the Indian Air Force by 2007-8, the scientist said. U.S. sanctions imposed against India in 1998 virtually halted the LCA program by preventing delivery of the GE 404 engines. With those sanctions lifted, the aircraft prototypes are being fitted with the U.S.-made machine.

Meanwhile, the DRDO is developing its own Kaveri engine for the LCA. The Indian engine currently is undergoing flight trials on a Tupolev aircraft.

DRDO scientists claim that LCA is the world’s smallest lightweight, multirole aircraft that integrates modern design concepts and state-of-art technologies.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:52 AM


No French Tech Transfer for Indian Missile Radar
Plans for serial production of India’s Nag anti-tank missile suffered a blow with the French government’s refusal to allow Thales to transfer to India technology for the company’s seeker radar system for the missile.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) officials here said Thales in late November told India’s Defence Research and Development Laboratory (DRDL), Hyderabad, it could not transfer the target-seeker technology for the system’s production in India. The Nag missile is in the final stages of development for the Army, and serial production was to begin in March or April. A new timetable was not available, but MoD officials said they are working to resolve this impasse.

MoD officials said the DRDL approached Thales in July for approval of the technology transfer for seeker-head production in India because Thales is closing its Nag-specific seeker-head production facilities in France.

India twice approached the French government to intervene and give Thales clearance to sign a technology-transfer contract with the DRDL, MoD sources said. The value of that potential contract was not disclosed.

The French government is reluctant to give Thales clearance because of New Delhi’s delay in finalizing a contract for six French Scorpene submarines, for which Armaris is the prime contractor, the MoD sources said. Armaris is a joint venture of Thales and French shipyard DCN. The $2 billion Scorpene deal has been in negotiations for four years. Officials at the French Defense Ministry and Armaris were unavailable for comment by press time.

The DRDL since 1988 has bought 60 seeker heads for developmental Nag missiles for an undisclosed amount, and Thales has signed another contract to supply upgraded seeker systems for the DRDL’s new Astra air-to-air beyond-visual-range missile, now being developed. The value of that contract also was not disclosed.

Thales executives here said this is a commercial matter and the company would not comment.

DRDL Director Rama Rao Prahlada said the laboratory has carried out 40 successful trials of the Nag, and the Army plans another 20 mission-specific trials in the next two to three months.

Prahlada said the DRDL is consulting with India’s sole missile-maker, Bharat Dynamics, on a timetable for serial production of the Nag at its plant in Hyderabad.

But Army officials here said that if India does not get the appropriate technologies from Thales, there will be production problems. India does not possess the capability to design and develop sophisticated seeker heads for missiles, the Army officials said, noting that if France does not reverse its decision, the service may have to buy anti-tank missiles elsewhere, effectively killing the Nag program.

The Army requires around 500 Nag missiles and the Air Force 100 missiles each year.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:51 AM


F-16s not safe in Pak's hands: Pallone
Indo-Asian News Service
New Delhi, January 13, 200512:31 IST

US Congressman Frank J Pallone Jr is convinced that the F-16s the US proposes to sell to Pakistan are "likely to be used against India."

"The history of nuclear trends shows that such weapons are not safe in the hands of Pakistan," Pallone, founder of the India Caucus, said in New Delhi.

Pallone is in India as part of a 12-member US Congressional delegation that will visit the three worst tsunami-hit nations, including India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. "Such arms sale makes me suspicious. Where else would Pakistan use such weapons except in India?" Pallone asked.

He stressed on the point that it's 'irresponsible' to entrust Pakistan with nuclear facilities.
"The possibilities of their (F-16s) being used by Jehadi (fundamentalist) forces can't also be ruled out," said Pallone.

Pallone founded the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, better known as the India Caucus, in 1993.

Over the last 12 years, the caucus has grown to include 184 members of Congress and is the largest country caucus in the US House of Representatives.

Pallone, who is known to promote India's cause in Washington DC, is upbeat about India-US relations going from strength to strength in the days to come.

"India is being increasingly seen in Washington as a strategic ally and as a reliable partner in the global war on terror," Pallone said. Pallone is a passionate advocate for de-clubbing US-India relations from US-Pakistan relations.

"The relationship is steadily growing and maturing with every passing day. There is a bipartisan consensus on pursuing good relations with India. It really doesn't matter who is in power — the Democrats or the Republicans," said Pallone, a Democrat who confessed that there had been some anxiety among Democrats about the course of India-US relations when Republicans led by George W Bush were voted to power five years ago.

Praising India's handling of the post-tsunami relief operations, Pallone said: "India's refusal to accept help shows its confidence and increasing self-reliance in managing the aftermath of massive disasters such as the December 26 tsunami blitz."

According to Pallone, more proactive participation of Indian Americans in the political processes is the key to more clout in the US political system.

"The Indian-American community is empowered politically. They have a substantial political presence. The election of Bobby Jindal to the House of Representatives is a strong indicator that we are going to see more and more Indian Americans being elected to legislatures and even local bodies," said Pallone.

"Defence ties between India and the US are going to be increasingly important. The Bush administration sees defence ties as the driving force of bilateral relationships, specially with India," said Pallone.

"Enhanced defence cooperation is a precursor to better economic and trade relations," said Pallone, who represents the people of the sixth district of New Jersey in the House.


Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 4:57 PM


India Allots More Funds For Work on LCA Engine
The Indian government has decided to release $622 million to continue development work on the Kaveri engine that will power the Air Force’s Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), a project already a decade behind schedule.

The government since 1989 has spent about $311 million on the engine’s development. A Defence Ministry official said the additional $622 million was needed to accelerate the program so that the Kaveri is available by 2007, when the LCA is to enter service with the Indian Air Force. The state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has purchased 17 GE 404 engines for the LCA aircraft that will go into service first.

The Kaveri engine is being developed by the Bangalore-based Gas Turbine Research Establishment and the Aeronautical Development Agency under the aegis of DRDO.

However, sources in the DRDO said Dec. 27 that the additional funds also will be used to develop a more powerful version of the Kaveri engine than planned for the LCA, and that this version will be used for the Medium Combat Aircraft.

The DRDO plans to develop the Medium Combat Aircraft to meet future Air Force requirements. Details on the upgrade of the Kaveri engine meant for the Medium Combat Aircraft are not known, but sources said only slight alterations would be needed.

The government already agreed to a DRDO proposal submitted two years ago for the Medium Combat Aircraft, for which about $1.5 billion would be spent on the design and development of two prototypes. The DRDO’s Aero-nautical Development Agency in Bangalore would head up the program.

The Medium Combat Aircraft, projected for service around 2015, is to be powered by two thrust-vector Kaveri engines and is likely to have stealth capability. It will replace the aging Jaguar and the Mirage aircraft.

The Defence Ministry official said the current version of the Kaveri engine for the LCA is undergoing flight trials in Russia on Tupolev Tu-17 aircraft. After the completion of trials in Russia, the DRDO plans to apply for flight certification, the officials said.

Two prototypes of the LCA, being built by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd., Bangalore, thus far have been test-flown only with the GE 404 engines.

One DRDO scientist said Dec. 28 that the engine trials in Russia are to gather altitude performance data, noting that the “baseline performance of the engine is in close agreement with the predictions.”

The scientist admitted that development of the Kaveri engine was scheduled for completion in 2002, but it “is a technologically complex and vital system and incorporates state-of-the-art technologies.”

Four prototypes of the Kaveri engine have been built.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:56 AM


India Invites China for Joint Anti-Terrorism Exercises
Indian Army Chief N. C. Vij has invited China to participate in joint anti-terrorism exercises in a further sign of growing military links between the two countries, China’s state press said Dec. 29.

“We invite China to join our military exercise in non-traditional security,” Vij was quoted by the Xinhua news agency as telling Chinese Defense Minister Cao Gangchuan in talks Dec. 28. “We should expand the ongoing frequent personnel exchanges to officers at all levels, including junior ones.”

‘Non-traditional security issues’ is a term frequently used by Chinese officials to denote terrorism.

The two militaries, which clashed in a brief but bloody border war in 1962, held their first-ever joint search and rescue exercises off the coast of China last year as part of efforts to cement military ties.

Vij’s ongoing visit, which began Dec. 22, is the highest level Indian military visit to China since 1994.

“China would like to step up its cooperation with India in the defense and security sector and advance bilateral military ties to a higher level,” Cao was quoted as saying.

Sino-Indian military ties play an important part in overall bilateral relations, said Cao, who also serves as vice head of the powerful Central Military Commission.

In recent years, China and India have sought to improve ties and have worked to resolve a longstanding border dispute in the controversial Kashmir region where China also has territorial claims along with India and Pakistan.

India’s 1998 nuclear tests have been seen as prompting Beijing to improve relations with its huge neighbor despite China’s traditionally friendly ties with its other nuclear-armed South Asian neighbor, Pakistan.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:55 AM


India Plans To Spend $9 Billion for a Mix Of Combat Aircraft
The Indian government has issued a request for information (RFI) to overseas defense companies for what would be the country’s largest one-time purchase of defense equipment — 126 multirole combat aircraft for the Air Force, worth more than $9 billion.

The RFI seeks technical and maintenance support data for the aircraft the companies have offered.

A Defence Ministry official said Dec. 28 that the RFI has been issued to Russian Aircraftbuilding Corporation MiG, Moscow, for information on its MiG-29SMT; Saab, Linköping, Sweden, for the JAS 39C; and Dassault Aviation, Saint Cloud, France, for the Mirage 2000-9.

A tender is expected to be issued in the next four months. A technical evaluation will take another six to eight months. Financial bids and price negotiations will follow.

More than one contract could be issued, as the service is eyeing a mix of aircraft. Contracts would not be signed before early 2007.

Other MoD sources said the RFI has not been issued to Lockheed Martin for the F-16 aircraft. The ministry official would not comment on this, but noted an RFI can be sent to more defense companies in the future.

The Air Force also has received a detailed presentation on the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft.

An executive at Lockheed Martin’s office here said no RFI has been issued to the Bethesda, Md.-based company. A U.S. diplomat here, meanwhile, noted Lockheed Martin already has offered its F-16 fighter aircraft and is awaiting response from the Indian government.

The Indian Air Force wants to replace its aging MiG-21 combat aircraft with a mix of aircraft from overseas companies, as the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft is behind schedule by at least a decade and will not be ready until 2007-08.

Dassault’s upgraded Mirage 2000-9 aircraft is the front-runner, an Air Force official said.

The Air Force also wants the transfer of key production technology of the aircraft it procures. The service is looking for aircraft with modern radar and beyond-visual-range weapons, among other things.

Sources in the MoD’s Defense Procurement Board said they will favor a global competition and tender instead of the single-vendor system followed by the government in the past, so that the selection will be fair and offer best value for the money.

Bhim Singh, a retired Air Force wing commander and defense analyst, said the Air Force should buy a mix of all the aircraft to get the maximum technology transfer.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:54 AM


India Uses Israeli UAVs To Locate Tsunami Victims
India has deployed Israeli-made Searcher and Heron unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in round-the-clock searches for victims of the tidal waves that have devastated large parts of the mainland and outlying island territories.

An Indian Defence Ministry official said the military began UAV reconnaissance flights on Dec. 29, in attempts to locate survivors and — more likely — corpses of the thousands still reported missing, primarily in the Andaman and Nicobar islands.

“We are operating the UAVs from the naval base at Kochi for aerial reconnaissance,” the official said Jan. 1. “They send back pictures even as they fly. On spotting distressed people [or bodies], we immediately rush helicopters to the spot for rescue operations.”

He declined to specify how many survivors or their remains were detected through the UAV flights, but noted that India’s naval base at Kochi has eight Searcher Mk4 and four Herons procured from Israel in 2002.

An official at Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI), prime contractor for the Searcher and Heron UAVs, confirmed on Jan. 2 that IAI products had been used in the rescue operations. The official said that effective use of the UAVs — particularly that of the long-endurance Heron — could hasten an estimated $200 million deal now pending between Israel and India for another 50 Heron/Eagle unmanned planes.

Israeli and Indian sources said details of the deal have been finalized between the two sides, and that actual contract signature is expected in the coming weeks.

“It’s now wending its way through the bureaucratic process, and we’ve been told to expect a firm contract signature sometime soon,” the IAI official said.

The Heron/Eagle is a medium-altitude, long-endurance UAV capable of flying for more than 30 hours at a time at altitudes exceeding 32,000 feet. It has a maximum range of about 3,300 kilometers and can carry a maximum payload weighing 250 kilograms. The UAV is built to carry five different kinds of payloads at a time for a variety of multiple missions, including ground surveillance, maritime patrol, signals and other intelligence collection missions and radio relay operations.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:53 AM


Encore Software develops handheld PC for Indian army
Indian army soldiers will soon be carrying indigenously developed handheld PCs called ‘Sathi’. The new device has been developed by a Bangalore based firm, Encore Software, which had earlier designed India’s first handheld computer.

The company informs that ‘Sathi’ is an integrated battle computer with Global Positioning System (GPS) and radio, customised Geographical Information System (GIS) and enabling field sketches with a customised symbol library for map marking. Weighing 875 gm, it can easily fit into a soldier’s palm and also has a remotely operated self-destruction and activation feature for preventing misuse by unauthorised persons.

Indian army has reportedly acquired 120 handhelds in a pilot project at Jammu & Kashmir and will soon extend this to other areas.

Encore officials claim that this is the first army project to be developed from conception to product stage in less than two years.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:50 AM


U.S., India plan series of joint army exercises
The U.S. and Indian armies have planned a series of joint exercises over the next two years, U.S. Army Pacific officials announced this week.

The plan, officially signed Dec. 9 during a visit by the 9th Executive Steering Group to U.S. Army Pacific, includes continuation of the annual Exercise Yudh Abayas that is held annually both in India and the United States.

This year, the platoon-level exercise was held in India and Hawaii. Next year, a portion of the exercise will be held in Alaska and India. Security cooperation program activities also will be held on subjects including aviation, medicine, logistics and others, according to the release.

“Having a close working relationship with the Indian Army is vital to the stability of the Asia-Pacific Theater,” Lt. Gen. John M. Brown III, U.S. Army Pacific commander, stated in a news release announcing the joint exercises. “We have a very positive relationship with the Indian Army leadership and I’m enthusiastic about continuing the cooperative efforts that we have worked together to develop.”

Each year the U.S. Army and the Indian Army use joint exercises, exchanges of subject-matter experts and seminars to promote mutual understanding and hone their ability to work together.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:49 AM


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This blog focuses on current issues concerning defense and national security for the world's largest democracy - India. It is updated regularly providing readers with in-depth information on technology transfer, acquisitions, counter-terrorism, security and military collaboration and strategic dialogue between India and the United States. The site includes links to top defense policy & research institutes, think-tanks, military sites and research organizations.
Cooperative Cope Thunder
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