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Indian Defence Budget May Shoot Up by 30 Per Cent to Rs1000 Billion
The Indian Defence Budget is expected to cross the psychological barrier of Rs1000 billion (US$22.8 billion) when the Congress Government presents its new year’s budget on February 28 in the Lok Sabha, South Asia Tribune has learnt.

It would be an increase of about 30 per cent to the current budget of Rs770 billion and may provide momentum to increased defence spending in the sub-continent.

The Finance Ministry is pressing to buy helicopters that could fly on high altitudes and in sub-zero temperatures, besides equipping the Indian Navy.

In the last budget the increase on defence was 27.69 per cent compared to the revised estimates of Rs603 billion. It was the biggest military budget in two decades as in 2000-01 it was Rs496.22 billion, in 2001-02 Rs542.66 billion and in 2002-03 Rs556.62 billion.

Renowned economist Kamal Nayan Kabara told the South Asia Tribune: “The UPA government has a long list of armaments it wants to buy from various countries including EU, USA and Russia. Keeping this in mind, India’s Defense Budget is likely to swell. During the current financial year the Government of India has not been able to buy arms as the budgetary allocations did not permit, but in 2005-06, there could be a jump to cross the Rs1000 billion mark.”

Mr. Kabara says that the erstwhile National Democratic Alliance government had struck a deal with Israel for Falcon radar, with Britain for Advanced Jet Trainer aircrafts and with Russia for Admiral Gorshkov warship. Rs300 billion have already been paid by the previous government to these countries as token money, and Rs260 billion r had to be paid in 2004-05.

He says: “Though last year the defense budget had been increased by Rs173 billion, it was spent on the deals made by the previous government. And since military and militant activities have not decreased in a substantial manner, the budget allocation is bound to go up.”

As India began technical talks in New Delhi on Monday with a US team on the Patriot missiles, New Delhi is also seeking US cooperation in raising Special Forces on the line of American Green Berets, Delta Force and Rangers. Increased allocations are also needed for all this.

Apart from this, the defense sector is pressing the Government of India to allocate funds for buying ultra modern helicopters to cope with Kargil-like situations. Sources close to Defense Minister, Pranab Mukherjee, told the South Asia Tribune: “Without increasing allocations, the program of modernization of the Indian forces will not be possible. Though peace process has started between India and Pakistan, the defense sector feels that equipping of the forces is still necessary.”

“We need at least 60 ultra modern helicopters that can fly on high altitudes and in sub-zero temperatures to be deployed in Kargil and Siachen areas. These are the multi-purpose helicopters, which can be used for reconnaissance on high altitude, supplies and to attack, as well,” sources added.

According to the informed sources, the Indian Army is, nowadays, looking forward to buy any one of the three helicopters, viz., Bell-70, Kamov and Eurocopter. A test flight of all these three variants is going on in Bangalore.

Kamov helicopters have already been included in the Indian Navy, and the Navy wants to equip these helicopters with AWACKS facilities. Germany’s Eurocopter is involved in developing a heavy transport helicopter which could carry 10 to 13 tons of material and transport 70 soldiers. Indian forces say that such a helicopter would be able to cope with any future Kargils.

On the other hand, the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is also developing such helicopters. The Cheetal helicopter made a world record on November 2, 2004 by flying at the altitude of 25,150 feet over Saasar Kangadi in Laddakh. The HAL has fitted TM-333 2M2 engine in this helicopter.

Similarly, the HAL is also developing lightweight Dhruv helicopters. The test flight of this helicopter has also been successfully done by flying it up to the altitude of 27,000 feet, but it is still undergoing test flights.

The Indian Army has also chalked out a plan to buy 155 mm caliber cannons. During the Kargil War, only the controversial Bofors cannons were successful while others had failed.

Director of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analysis, C. Udai Bhaskar told the South Asia Tribune: “It is believed that the defense allocation next year will be around three percent of the Gross Domestic Product. The main issue would be what would be the mode of allocation, and how the allocated funds would be utilized.”

“We know that at umpteen times, funds lapsed due to non-utilization. It means there had been no plans how to expend the funds. The Defense Budget has two parts, viz revenue and capital outlay. The capital outlay is used for modernization, achievements and technical developments. This is the main part of the Defense Budget which has never been utilized properly in past,” he said.

Bhaskar said: “Today, military tensions between India and Pakistan, and India and China have substantially reduced. When there is no extraneous threat, then why to increase budget allocations? But it is important as India has to revolutionize the defense sector with modern techniques and technologies which we have been ignoring so far.”

“Secondly, we have to strike the balance between the three forces. At present the ratio of the personnel of Army, Air Force and Navy stand as 22:2:1. This is the worst ratio in the world. Therefore the ratio of the budget allocation also stands as 4:2:1. The Indian Navy gets only 16 per cent of the total allocation, despite its strategic importance. What a pity,” he added.

Bhasker says: “All the three forces are facing the challenge of how to maintain a balance between the strategic arm capability (nuclear weapons, missiles, satellite, etc), traditional forces (artillery, tanks, ships and fighter aircrafts) and Special Forces (modern equipment for all types of warfare) so as to cope with terrorism and challenges of internal security.”


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:36 AM


Pakistan-India nuclear weapons pose no threat: US
India and Pakistan have nuclear weapons and the capability to deliver them to targets in the region, but both nations are "friends of the United States and don’t threaten" its territory, said a senior US official.

This was stated by US Assistant Secretary for Intelligence and Research Thomas Fingar to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Fingar said there was a broad consensus in the international community that concurred with the judgement that terrorism was the single greatest threat to Americans, both at home and abroad, and that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, missiles and certain types of advanced conventional weapons was a close and dangerous second.

Diplomacy, he said, was critical to US efforts to contain, counter and diminish the threats the country faces. The normalisation of relations with China and demise of the Soviet Union, he said, dramatically reduced the danger of nuclear war and eliminated or transformed fundamentally a wide variety of associated threats.

But the end of the Cold War also brought many changes to other aspects of international life, including the erosion of constraints or "client" states, the re-emergence of long-repressed political aspirations and the rise of ethnic and religious hatreds.

Former Director of Central Intelligence Jim Woolsey described the change as the displacement of a "few big dragons" by lots of dangerous snakes. But, said Fingar, it was, and is, more than that.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:09 AM


HAL makes strong pitch for light helicopter
It was praised as a superior aircraft in its class, at the recent Aero India 2005 show, but that superiority of the advanced light helicopter (ALH) is yet to translate into firm orders for public sector aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The five-tonne class helicopter, which HAL is pitching as a multi-role aircraft capable of both military and civil applications, is yet to find countries or companies willing to buy in large enough numbers.

On Thursday, HAL put up a display of the ALH for visiting diplomats from eight different Latin American countries, “to promote our product,” a senior HAL official said.

“No orders have come in yet... they wished to see the performance of the aircraft, and it was an opportunity for us to demonstrate its superiority,” the official said. Last year, HAL and its marketing partner for the ALH, Israel Aircraft Industries, made a “comprehensive presentation” on the ALH to the Chilean armed forces.

“That was our first big pitch in Latin America... they are still evaluating the aircraft,” he said.

HAL is in competition with other larger firms to supply Chile with helicopters with capabilities of the ALH, whose five variants include a military helicopter and an ambulance. Competitors include US-based Bell Helicopters. The chief of Chile’s air force was also present at the Aero India show.

On Thursday, ambassadors from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Peru, Suriname and Uruguay, and the counsellor, Embassy of Guyana saw the flight demonstration of the ALH, an HAL release said. HAL has sold two ALH’s to Nepal, and is in the process of finalising the sale of a third, to Israel.

The twin engine aircraft is currently powered by an engine supplied by Tourbomeca, a company of the Snecma Group, a propulsion systems and equipment-maker based in France. But it will be the first helicopter to be driven by a more powerful engine, the Ardiden, which Tourbomeca and HAL are currently co-developing, HAL officials said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:44 AM


Defence shopping to be time-bound
The Defence Ministry’s reviewed procurement procedure is scheduled to be announced on February 21. The most significant feature of the new policy is a time-bound system for scrutiny of defence purchases, senior South Block sources said. The changes constitute the first set of alterations to the buying policy since it was tweaked in December 2001 by former Defence minister George Fernandes.

A review of the policy — a compulsion under the CMP — was ordered seven months ago by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee to reduce red tape in the procurement procedure. The Finance Ministry cleared the changes last month, and a copy of the new policy will be presented by Defence Secretary Ajai Vikram Singh to Mukherjee a week before the Union Budget on February 28.

Two weeks ago, Mukherjee told a meeting of his Ministry’s Consultative Committee that he hoped the new procedure would be more streamlined towards requirements of the armed forces. Long periods of time between the communication of requirement and signing of a deal, mostly due to unwieldy bureaucratic requirements, have led to increased costs of equipment and lower bargaining power for the Indian Government.

A case in point being the purchase of 66 Hawk-132 jet trainers — 19 years after the IAF said it needed them.

The Defence Ministry is expecting a hike of 20 per cent in this year’s budgetary allocations, on the rationale that this financial year will be marked by payments for orders already placed on equipment that include the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier, Phalcon AWACS, MiG-29 fighters and expected orders of Scorpene submarines, 126 multirole fighter aircraft, assorted Naval aircraft, 155mm artillery guns and missile systems.

By December last year, the Ministry had managed to spend 73 per cent of the Rs 77,000 crore allotted to it in the Budget 2004-05.

IAF teams to inspect Israeli, French missiles

WITH competition down two firms, the IAF will dispatch teams to Israel and France next month to inspect the two air defence missile systems competing for a Rs 1,500-cr contract, sources said. Israeli defence firms Rafael-IAI’s Spyder system and Ango-French MBDA’s Mica have been shortlisted for the final round of trials to equip the New Western Air Command with a comprehensive ground-based rapid action all-weather air defence capability. —ENS


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:42 AM


Israeli Defense exports hit $3.6b; India top client
Israel's defense sector exports reached $3.6 billion last year, beating forecasts, according to Major General (res) Yossi Ben-Hanan, head of the defense export aid department at the Defense Ministry. This is the sector's second best performance ever and an increase of $500 million over 2003. Defense exports reached $4.1 billion in 2002.

Ben-Hanan was speaking yesterday at the signing of the sale of Israel Military Industries' light arms unit, Magen, to IWI, controlled by businessman Samy Katsav.

Israeli exports of military goods account for 10 percent of the global trade in weaponry, making Israel one of the five leading nations in the world in arms sales.

According to the ministry's figures, India is the number one customer of Israeli-manufactured arms. In 2004, new contracts were signed between the Indian Defense Ministry and Israeli defense companies to the tune of $1.7 billion. Of this, $1.1 billion came from India's purchase of three early warning Phalcon planes from Israel Aicraft Industries and its subsidiary Elta Electronics.

India also bought fighting equipment and systems from Israeli firms to the tune of $500 million.

The Defense Ministry believes that the current trade between the two states will increase in the future. Nevertheless, the ministry forecasts that Israel's military exports will total a more moderate $2.5 billion for 2005.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:40 AM


Navy may buy Israeli Derby missiles for $25 million
India and Israel are expected to sign a $25 million deal for acquiring 20 Derby missiles for the Indian Navy.

The deal, which is likely to be inked next month with Tel Aviv-based Rafael Armament Development Authority is for beyond visual range (BVR) air-to-air Derby missiles.

According to senior defence ministry sources, the deal will also include six practice missiles. The missiles are designated for the Indian Navy’s Sea Harrier planes, which are on board INS Viraat aircraft carrier.

India has been conducting a worldwide search of BVR missiles for its battle fleet since 2000. The contract for arming its Sea Harrier jets was opened in 2003, sources added.

Once the agreement is finalised, the Israel company will be stationing its specialists in India to train the Navy officers in maintenance and operation of missiles. Officials said that the company will also supply racks and trailers for transferring and installing the missiles.

Delivery of the missiles will start 30 months after the contract is signed, and be completed a year after that, sources said. These missiles have a maximum range of 20 km, a flying speed of Mach 1.2, and can lock in on the target even before being launched, or shortly after the launch.

Sources said that Indian Air Force (IAF) also needs next-generation BVR missiles for upgrading its Mirage 2000H and Sukhoi Su-30 MKI.

The need for new missiles was revealed in early 2003, when the IAF’s weapon systems were unable to cope with those of French dur-ing the joint Indo-French military exercise.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:39 AM


Pakistan wants only deterrent capability against India: Karamat
Pakistan wants to maintain a defence deterrence capability against India with no wish to compete with its neighbour or match it, according to Ambassador Jehangir Karamat.

Karamat told a group of locally-based Pakistani journalists, with whom he now meets once every month for a general briefing session, that Pakistan had never objected to any weapons and weapon systems that India had tried to acquire, whereas India always objected to Pakistan seeking what it required for its defence, such as the F-16 aircraft that were already in service with the Pakistan Air Force. He confirmed that out of the 27 twin-engine Bell Helicopters that Pakistan had sought for anti-terrorism operations, it had already received delivery of 24 of them. Pakistan was also waiting for the delivery of eight P-3C Orion aircraft and TOW missiles.

He said Washington, which had bilateral relations with both India and Pakistan, should make a judgment as to which defence systems or weapons could trigger an imbalance in the region. He pointed out that India planned to spend $95 billion over the next 15 years on military purchases and was interested in acquiring Mirage 2000-9 aircraft and high-performance versions of Soviet-made SU aircraft.

The ambassador answered questions about the Baghliar dam issue and reiterated Pakistan’s stated position on the question. He said Baghliar was not being allowed to interfere with the ongoing dialogue between the two countries because it involved a “specific” agreement, namely the Indus Waters Treaty. He spoke of his meetings with World Bank officials, informing the journalists that Pakistan had provided all necessary documentation to the Bank and India, he understood, had been asked to submit a reply to the Bank by February 22.

He said Pakistan had tried hard to resolve the dispute bilaterally but had met no success, hence the resort to the World Bank, as provided for under the Treaty. Pakistan’s objections to Baghliar related to “water storage capacity, height and gate design”. Pakistan believed India was building the dam in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty.

Karamat informed said a congressional delegation would soon proceed to the region and visit Pakistan. The group would include Senator Hillary Clinton. Her husband, former president Bill Clinton, was expected to accompany the delegation, though apparently not as a member.

The ambassador said he was continuing his meetings on Capitol Hill and besides others had met Sen Richard Lugar (R-Indiana), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen Lincoln Chafee (R-Rhode Island), chairman of its South Asia Sub-Committee. He had also held meetings with Congressman Tom Lantos (D-California), and Rep Joseph Pitts (R-Pennsylvania). He added that during his discussions with these congressional leaders issues that had come up included Pakistan-Afghanistan, Pakistan-India and Pakistan-US relations, Balochistan floods and avalanches in the northern areas of Pakistan.

Karamat said that Pakistan Senate Chairman Muhammadmian Soomro, State Bank Governor Ishrat Hussain, Education Minister Javed Ashraf Qazi and the financial adviser to the prime minister, Salman Shah, were due to visit the United States in the coming weeks. While Soomro would arrive on February 19 and visit Boston, New York and Houston, Qazi was due to be in Washington from March 13 to 18.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:37 AM


MiG supply as part of Gorshkov deal on schedule
As part of the $1.5 billion Admiral Gorshkov deal signed in January 2004, Russia’s MiG Corporation is to develop and supply 12 MiG-29K single-seater fighters with multi-role capabilities and 4 twin-seater MiG-29KUB combat-cum-trainer aircraft for $740 million.

Talking to FE, Alexey Fedrov, director-general of RAC MiG said, “The serial production of the planes has already commenced, the work is moving ahead strictly as per schedule.”

Mr Fedrov said that the MiG 29K meant for the aircraft carrier is on schedule with no complaints from the Indian side and with no technical or financial problems.

“The fact that we have received second tranche of the advance payment from the Indian government is an indication that things are moving ahead strictly on schedule,” he said.

“The representatives of the Indian Navy and ministry of defence have access to MiG design bureau and production units to constantly monitor the implementation of the deal,” he added.

The RAC MiG will also implement new operational principles in India. They will enhance aircraft availability up to 80-90% on the one hand, and reduce operational costs by 40% on the other, he pointed out.

According to the contract, it requires radical improvement of operational parameters, as compared with those of of the Indian Air Force MiG 29.

Certain new solutions will be implemented including the introduction of the “on condition” operational strategy.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:36 AM


India, Pakistan potential threats: US committee
The House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, in one of its rare open hearings, identified Asia, and specifically India and Pakistan as well as China, as potential threats and sources of instability.

Hearing testimony from experts, Peter Hoedstra, chair of the House of Representatives' Intelligence Committee, said Washington spends a significant amount of money on understanding threats from all sources, not just from nuclear capable states.

The issues discussed are among several that will be identified during Congressional hearings throughout the coming year as the committee develops its annual authorisation bill for US intelligence services, said the committee in a release.

Kurt M Campbell, senior vice president and director of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies' International Security Programme, discussed the challenges posed by Asia and in particular the rapid increase in the power and influence of China.

"Indeed, every major traditional challenge to peace and stability is currently found in Asia, from the continuing dangerous stalemate on the Korean peninsula, the increasingly dangerous undertones in the China-Taiwan relationship, and the tinderbox quality of the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan," Campbell said in written remarks submitted to the committee.

"Furthermore, while the current focus of US actions in the war on terror is in the Middle East, it is arguable that the long term 'hearts and mind' challenge associated with Islamic politics will be found in Southeast Asia, where the largest population of Islamic followers on the planet reside," Campbell warned.

Witnesses addressed a range of potential threats, including shifts in the military and economic power structure of nation states, state sponsorship of terrorism, terrorist groups, advancements in technology and communications, the effects of globalisation and global demographics.

"The Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004 made an important start in reshaping US intelligence, but in many respects the harder part - reshaping the cultures and organisations, in addition to the organisation charts - lies ahead of us," said Gregory F Treverton, director of the Intelligence Policy Centre for the RAND Corporation.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:35 AM


India's military hungry for more
Indian defense officials have laid out a request for a huge increase in spending on arms to New Delhi, most of which will be used to purchase state-of-the-art weaponry from suppliers around the world. In a couple of weeks, the national budget will be presented by the ruling United Progressive Alliance, headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and while there is intense lobbying from representatives of various sectors to incorporate their demands, attention has focused on the over 40% hike in defense outlay that has been demanded by the India's defense forces, which comes in the wake of an unprecedented 22% increase last year.

Last year, the budget set apart the biggest-ever allocation to defense - the equivalent of US$15 billion for 2004-05. This represented 2.5% of India's gross domestic product, lower than China (6%) and Pakistan (5.5%), though in absolute terms Pakistan spent $4 billion last year, which was an increase of 20% over 2003-04.

The Indian defense community's wish list is long, which they feel is necessary to modernize the country's armed forces. These include a proposal to purchase F-16 fighter jets, Scorpene submarines and long-range rocket systems. The proposal to buy 126 F-16s - at $25 million each over five years - will itself cost the exchequer $3 billion. When this is added to the payments being made for the expensive equipment already purchased, the defense budget takes on huge proportions.

The increased defense spending includes more than $7 billion to purchase weapons systems and to implement the intermediate-range Agni ballistic missile units, capable of delivering nuclear warheads. India last year signed a $1.5 billion agreement with BAE Systems Plc, Europe's biggest weapons maker, for 66 Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer aircraft as part of its plan to modernize its air force.

Last year, the country also inked a multimillion-dollar deal with Russia to acquire an aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov. India has also agreed to buy three Phalcon airborne early-warning radar systems from Israel valued at $1 billion. Of the 3,414 tanks in the Indian army's possession, 1,200 are obsolete, while 700 of them are vintage Russian T-55s. India has been introducing T-90s phase-by-phase and it is estimated that almost $8 billion will be set apart for a project to increase the firepower of the infantry.

It is estimated that Israel's defense industry sold arms and munitions to India valued at $2.7 billion in 2003, constituting about 30% of its total orders, and offered more at Aero India, a five-day international aerospace and defense exhibition that ended this Sunday in the Indian city of Bangalore. It has been reported that at Aero India, touted as the largest show of its kind in South Asia, deals worth more than $1.2 billion were been signed between Indian and foreign aerospace firms. The deals ranged from aircraft purchases by Indian budget carriers from Airbus and Boeing to the joint manufacture of missiles and engine parts. India's air force is seeking government approval for 126 so-called "multi-role" combat aircraft to replace aging Russian MiGs, India's Air Chief Marshal Satish Tyagi said in Bangalore. Boeing has offered to sell its F-18 jets, while Maryland-based Lockheed Martin has offered its F-16 fighter as part of the deal.

There is one school of thought in India that insists that there is a requirement for such a huge augmentation and modernization of the Indian armed forces. Finance Minister P Chidambaram, while presenting last year's budget, said that the enormous hike in the defense-budget allocation was born out of the "government's determination to eliminate all delays in modernizing the defense forces. Having regard to the trend of defense capital expenditure in recent years, it has become necessary to make a higher allocation this year; 60% of the increase will be utilized for modernization." Some defense analysts say that the country should allocate such a huge portion as the bulk of the defense budget is revenue expenditure (salaries, wages) given the huge size of the Indian army, navy and air force.

Predictably, Pakistan is miffed at India's proposals to hike defense spending. Islamabad has repeatedly warned that India's increased defense spending was a "cause for concern". "This would wittingly or unwittingly accelerate the arms race between the two countries, which we could have avoided because both India and Pakistan need massive resources for poverty alleviation, education, health and for the social sector and creating new jobs," Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman Masood Khan said in the recent past. Khan also said that Pakistan had increased its own defense spending, though at a smaller rate than India, and would seek to maintain the "competitive edge of our strategic and conventional capabilities".

The other school of thought is that India's defense spending and war preparedness should take into consideration the threat of actual war in the foreseeable future, short, medium and long term, with greater cause for concern being terrorist attacks, as well as internal insurgencies, such as Naxalism, bad governance, caste and feudal wars and communal violence. This, in turn, should lead to India focusing more on getting its intelligence-gathering infrastructure, external and internal intelligence agencies and paramilitary forces right, rather than building on conventional weapons of war. Given the current state of superiority of India's armed forces over Pakistan, the country from which the threat perception is the highest, there is no requirement for such a massive drive. Further, given the fact that both India and Pakistan are nuclear-weapon states, it is unlikely that a full-scale high-intensity war lasting for weeks will ever happen, making the case for having such a huge cache of arms as well as armed forces redundant.

As far as India's other powerful neighbor, China, is concerned, it is believed that the exponential growth of business relations between the two countries is an effective deterrent, but in any case it would be impossible for India ever to match China's military strength. But business is seen as a bridge to peaceful relations. Sino-Indian bilateral trade has set a record, touching $13.6 billion in 2004, up by 79% over the total trade volume of 2003. India enjoyed a comfortable trade surplus of $1.75 billion, according to Chinese customs statistics. If growth remains at current levels, India-China trade could cross $17 billion by the end of 2004-05. In contrast, India's trade with the United States - its largest trading partner - has grown by just over 23% in April-August 2004. Indeed, there is an increasing comfort level, with India discounting Chinese influence in Nepal after the royal coup there on February 1 and the dismissal of the democratically elected government.

Economists such as Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen have repeatedly stressed that the rising military expenditure imposes substantial opportunity costs on government priorities such as health and education. According to defense analyst K Subhramanyam, "Modernizing the armed forces does not necessarily mean just adding inventories of the latest hardware ... Unplanned acquisition of hardware without appropriate defense planning based on sound assessment of threat may lead to large-scale avoidable expenditure."

A comment in The Times of India reads: "New Delhi needs to realize that engaging in a pointless arms race with Pakistan serves little purpose. So long as Pakistan remains under authoritarian rule, its defense budget will remain disproportionately high. But that does not mean India needs to match every Ghauri [type of ballistic missile] with an Agni. India enjoys a considerable edge over Pakistan by dint of the sheer size of its armed forces ... As for China, New Delhi is much better off trying to match Beijing's economic growth than its military might. However, the best argument for pulling out of an arms race is that social development and economic growth are the best defense for any nation."

While few would claim that India's armed forces should not be modernized, it is important to pace the process in a way that there is a definite but sure increment without a disproportionate chunk of government funds being siphoned away from equally important needs - the social sector, which affects the welfare of people the most.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:34 AM


Russian Sukhoi company set to develop cooperation with India
The Sukhoi aircraft holding company is set to develop joint aircraft-building projects with India. The director-general of the Sukhoi company, Mikhail Pogosyan, was speaking to journalists at the Aero India-2005 international exhibition, which ended its work on Sunday [13 February] in the Indian city of Bangalore.
"We are jointly designing promising military aviation systems and developing cooperation in the sphere of civil aviation," Pogosyan said.

To the question concerning the state of cooperation with the Indian HAL corporation under the programme of the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ), he replied that several rounds of consultations had been held and an agreement had been signed "which registers both sides' interest in working on this programme".

According to Pogosyan, the HAL corporation is expected to be involved in the production of some components for the RRJ glider. The Sukhoi company director-general believes that bilateral cooperation will also involve the production of some components for the RRJ's avionics and its engine.

Pogosyan also said that agreements in the sphere of engine production had been signed at the Aero India-2005 exhibition between HAL and Snecma Moteurs which, together with the Saturn scientific-and-production association, is working on the SaM 146 engine for the RRJ aircraft.

"I believe that within the next few weeks we will conclude specific accords," Pogosyan said. "I am very optimistic about the prospects for such cooperation."
As regards the possibility of the Indian Brahmos missile being mounted on the Su-30MKI aircraft, Pogosyan said: "The Su-30MKI is such a powerful platform that it is quite capable of carrying the Brahmos missile on board."

The issue of integrating the Brahmos missile with the Su-30MKI aircraft will be resolved and an increase in the efficiency of the aviation complex during the use of these weapons will be assessed when the production of Su-30MKI aircraft begins under licence in India as part of the programme of increasing the potential of these aircraft and modernizing them, Pogosyan said.

According to Pogosyan, a number of other aspects of the Su-30MKI modernization in the process of its licensed production are currently under discussion, "which will make it a modern aircraft at all stages of the implementation of this programme".


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:33 AM


Air Force version of Brahmos missile soon
The country is planning to make an Air Force version of the supersonic Brahmos cruise missile to suit Sukhoi MKI platform, an official said in Bangalore on the sidelines of the ongoing Aero show.

The Brahmos missile has identical configuration for land, sea and sub sea platforms. The air-launched version will have a smaller booster and additional tail fins for stability during launch.

"This involves design adaptable to Sukhoi-30 aircraft and then development effort because we have to take into account the speed of the mother aircraft and also the weight carrying capability of the aircrafts. This calls for some design improvements, which have to be carried on, and then we have to carry a mock up flight trial from another flying platform before we induct in the system. This is going to take considerable time and effort. We expect in two-three years' time we should be available to make the first flight trial," the Chief executive officer and Managing Director of Brahmos A. Sivathanu Pillai said in an interview with ANI.

Pillai further said that there was a plan to produce about 100 missiles every year, which would be compatible to many platforms.

Brahmos, named after India's Brahmaputra River and Russia's Moscow River, is primarily an anti-ship missile but can be used against land targets as well. It can be launched from land, sea and air.

Jointly developed with Russia, the missile has a range of 290 km and can carry a conventional warhead of up to 300 kg.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:32 AM


Lockheed hopes to be one of India's key military suppliers
US-based Lockheed Martin hopes to emerge as major military aircraft supplier to India.

Michael N. Kelley, Lockheed's International Market Development manager, said his company was looking forward to making soon an announcement of their first sale in India.

The US aeronautical giant, which manufactures the long haul Hercules transport aircraft, Orion naval spy planes and the nuclear capable F-16 fighters, is aggressively looking at the Indian market, pegging it as one of the world's largest.

Last week Lockheed Martin signed a technical agreement with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), India's premier aircraft manufacturing state-run enterprise based in southern Bangalore, to share data on its P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft.

India has also sought preliminary information in efforts to buy Lockheed's F-16 fighter jets, for which the U.S. government is yet to grant approval. The purchase, if sealed, will likely involve a manufacturing role for HAL.

"I have every hope and expectation that by the time Aero India 2007 is held, that we will have a major sale here in India, both the C-130-J and the MRCA (Multi Role Combat Aircraft) programme could be on track for completion by then. The P3C Orion is a government to government activity and it is progressing towards a possible inter-governmental agreement later this year or early next," Kelley said in New Delhi making a presentation of the C- 130-J Super Hercules transport aircraft.

The US Air Force has brought its C-130J Hercules on a tour of key Indian Air Force (IAF) bases to give a first-hand look at the tactical transport carrier used for special missions.

The aircraft, which has been sold to over 60 nations, was also showcased as part of the US Department of Defense exhibition at the recently concluded Aero India at Air Force Station Yelehanka near Bangalore.

Dennys Plessas, regional vice-president for Lockheed, said last week the company had necessary licenses from the US government for sale of the two non-combat aircraft. He saw probable purchases of six to eight C-130Js by India's air force and eight to 12 P-3Cs by the navy.

Kelley dismissed doubts that Lockheed's supplies to India's arch rival Pakistan would stand in the way.

"Well, it's not really anything different here in South Asia then it is for many other parts of the world or many other manufacturers. The French Dassault company, for instance, supplies Mirage aircrafts both to India and to Pakistan and it does not seem to be an issue between the Indian government and the French government that the French practise the same practice of selling to both sides. So in all honesty, I don't think it should be that big of an issue. I don't hear anyone here in India clamouring that we should stop buying from Russia because Sukhoi- 30s are being sold to China," he said.

India and the US have warmed up to defence cooperation since September 11, 2001 terror attacks and their forces hold periodic exercises. Sanctions on US military sales to India imposed after its May 1998 nuclear tests have been waived.

Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's No. 1 contractor, is the world's largest defence company, with a turnover of 35 billion dollar, with aeronautics contributing close to 12 billion dollar. Its customers include the military services of the United States and allied countries throughout the world.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:31 AM


Boeing and Lockheed target Indian fighters
Lockheed Martin, the largest U.S. defense contractor, and Boeing may bid to supply fighter jets to India for the first time, competing with MiG and Dassault Aviation for an order of as many as 126 aircraft.

Boeing, based in Chicago, will offer its F-18 jet, the senior vice president, Thomas Pickering, said in an interview last week at the Bangalore airshow organized by the Indian Defense Ministry. Lockheed Martin will offer its F-16 fighter, according to the company's vice president, Dennys Plessas.

Improving political, defense and business ties between the United States and India may help Boeing, Lockheed and other U.S. companies win contracts in India. In the past, the South Asian nation has bought its fighter planes from Russia and other European countries.

"This deal is of great significance for U.S. companies," Rahul Bedi, an analyst and correspondent for Jane's Defense Weekly, said in New Delhi. "It's the first time American companies are included in an Indian assessment for plane purchases by one of the world's top 10 military equipment buyers, and that in itself is of great significance."

India's air force is seeking government approval for 126 "multirole" combat aircraft to replace aging Russian MiGs, according to Air Chief Marshal Satish Tyagi of India.

"I want the best machine for my people to fight a war," Tyagi said in an interview in Bangalore last week. "It is for the government to decide which country they want to buy it from. From my point of view as a military commander, I want the best machine for my boys."

About 157 pilots have been killed in accidents involving MiG aircraft in India since 1971, the government said in November. Those accidents cost the air force as much as 17.7 billion rupees, or $405 million, the government said.

"We need to broaden our sources of procurement," Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said at a conference in Bangalore on Wednesday.

India last year signed a $1.5 billion agreement with BAE Systems, Europe's biggest weapons maker, for 66 Hawk trainer aircraft as part of its plan to modernize its air force. Dassault of France, which has sold 56 Mirage fighter jets to India, said Wednesday that it would bid to supply more fighters. MiG has also said that it would compete for the order.

Boeing is looking for new markets for its defense business, which includes F-18 fighters and C-17 cargo planes, because commercial demand has declined since 2001. Boeing's defense sales surpassed commercial sales for the first time in 2003.

The U.S. Congress would need to approve the sale of U.S. fighter jets to India, Pickering and Plessas said.

"We want to do more business with India," said Pickering, a former U.S. ambassador to that nation. "We've been held up a little, while the governments try to get the situation straight."

The United States imposed sanctions on India after India carried out nuclear tests in 1998. The sanctions froze nuclear and other high-technology trade between the countries. India's offer of support to the United States following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks led Washington to end sanctions, and last year the countries agreed to expand cooperation in high-technology trade.

The United States is considering a request from Pakistan for Lockheed Martin F-16 fighter jets, the Associated Press reported Feb. 3, citing Douglas Feith, U.S. under secretary of defense. An agreement Pakistan reached with the United States to buy 24 F-16s in the late 1980s was scrapped in the early 1990s because of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:21 AM


India and Israel Shape a New Strategic Relationship
In the face of unrelenting international pressure and criticism, Israel is keenly aware that it must seek to develop strategic alliances wherever possible in order to help maintain its very survival.

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Olmert no doubt had this harsh reality in mind in December, when, during a visit to New Delhi to announce the establishment of a joint Israel-India economic think tank, he stated, “Israel is looking for a genuine, friendly and open-hearted partnership with India.”

The partnership Olmert spoke of is a natural one. Its genesis lies in the shared vision of a more prosperous, secure future for the Israeli and Indian people. Since first establishing formal diplomatic relations in 1992, both countries have signed a number of defense, economic, and intelligence agreements in an effort to cooperatively address issues of mutual concern such as pan-Islamic extremism and terrorism, territorial sovereignty, and nuclear non-proliferation.

The improved state of Israel-India relations is most apparent in defense cooperation between the two countries. Israel has quickly become India’s second largest defense supplier behind Russia with $2 billion in sales over the past decade. Indeed, the exchange of military hardware and sophisticated battlefield technologies, cooperative ventures in the design and manufacture of military defense systems and the sharing of highly classified intelligence information are at the core of the Israel-India relationship.

In December, an Indian delegation led by Defense Secretary Ajay Vikram Singh visited Israel and met with Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz to and to explore areas for further cooperation between the two countries. And in early January, Israel Military Industries (IMI) signed an $11.6 million deal with India to jointly manufacture 125 mm tank shells. This, in addition to two previously announced agreements between IMI and the Indian government that would establish five chemical plants in India to develop explosives and a $30-$40 million deal to upgrade rockets for the Indian Army.

Israel and India have also agreed to hold joint air force exercises sometime in 2005 that will pit Israel’s American-made F-15 and F-16 fighters against the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Russian-made Su-30’s. In addition, Israel has agreed to upgrade the IAF’s Chita helicopters, jointly develop the Barak-II ship defense missile and upgrade the Indian Navy’s fleet of Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance planes. Separately, India is currently conducting trials of the Israeli built Lahat anti-tank missile, Crystal Maze laser-guided bombs and Pop-Eye missile.

Furthermore, Israeli Special Forces and intelligence agencies such as the Mossad (foreign operations) and AMAN (Army Intelligence Agency), which are recognized as two of the premier intelligence agencies in the world, are said to have trained Indian troops on counter-insurgency techniques.

The recent flurry of Israel-India defense agreements has angered the weapons-peddling Russians, who are eager to re-secure their Cold War position as a leading purveyor of military hardware and technology to the Middle East and Asia. To achieve this goal, the Russian government has placed intense diplomatic pressure on India, demanding that the country buy more Russian weapons and threatening to supply Muslim neighbor Pakistan with military hardware if they refuse.

On the economic front, Israel and India agreed in December to set up a joint study group to formulate a formal economic partnership plan that could potentially reach $5 billion annually by 2007. “We expect this positive trend to continue as India expands its range of goods and as its appetite for high-tech products grows,” said India’s Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath. A “Statement of Intent” that would establish the “India-Israel Industrial R&D Cooperation Initiative” to provide support for joint R&D projects has also been signed.

Recognizing a unique opportunity for increased economic cooperation, Israeli Employment Minister Ehud Olmert recently called for increased R&D efforts between the two countries to create IT products for the global marketplace, saying, “We need to find a balance between using the innovation of Israeli engineers and the proven skills in software development and implementation of Indian engineers.”

Opposing defense, economic, and intelligence cooperation between Israel and India is an array of well-entrenched Muslim hard-liners and Islamic theocrats who have called for the immediate severing of all relations between the two countries. The frequency and intensity of these virulent assaults could affect the ability of New Delhi’s government to forge a long-lasting, amenable consensus among the country’s 140 million Muslims. Making the situation more difficult is the fact that Muslim Indians, traditionally strong supporters of the Palestinian cause, view Israel as a human rights violator.

Recognizing the need to assuage the fears of its Muslin population, India has attempted to separate its Israel policy from the Arab-Israeli conflict. To achieve this, New Delhi has taken a more neutral position on the Palestinian question, publicly stating its continued support for the Palestinian cause and making deliberate efforts to further strengthen ties with its Arab neighbors, while reassuring Israel of its friendly intentions.

Adding new uncertainty to the fledgling Israel-India relationship has been India’s increased reliance on Iranian oil and gas reserves to sustain its economic growth. In early January, the state-run Gas Authority of India Limited and Indian Oil Corp. reached an agreement with the National Iranian Gas Export Corp allowing India to purchase 7.5 million tons of liquefied natural gas (LNG) over a 25-year period.

Discussions to acquire and develop the Iranian Yadavaran and Juffair oil and gas fields have already taken place. The construction of a $4 billion India-Pakistan-Iran LNG pipeline and a multi-billion joint Indian-Iranian LNG tanker project have also been proposed. Any expanded energy alliance between Iran and India would be a legitimate concern, as Israel and the U.S. try to isolate a nuclear-infatuated Iran.

Increased Israel-India bilateral cooperation raises important questions concerning the impending strength and depth of the relationship. For example, how will India maintain an effective balance between its growing energy dependence on Iran and defense relationship with Israel? Also, if a regional crisis were to erupt in the Middle East involving Iran, Israel and the United States, how would India respond? And how will nuclear-capable neighbor Pakistan, already a vocal opponent of Israel-India relations, react if bilateral, defense cooperation accelerates?

Muslim countries such as Iran, Syria and Pakistan view normalized relations between Israel and India with disdain -- an increasingly difficult concept to embrace. In turn, U.S. intermediacy as a facilitator in the Israel-Indian relationship is seen as “hegemonic meddling” for the purpose of world domination. The reason for this untenable position is clear: regional anti-democratic forces are fully cognizant that any high-profile U.S. presence on the Asian sub continent, or increased presence in the Middle East, could lead to the rapid evolution of a formidable, Pro-Western U.S.-Israel-India alliance. This nuclear triad would immediately challenge the nascent, geo-political aspirations of China, Iran and Russia.

Both Israel and India should carefully formulate a long-term, comprehensive strategy in a regional and global context to respond to inevitable criticism and resistance to any alliance.

For its part, the U.S. should actively support the Israel-India alliance and encourage their mutual desire to explore continued opportunities for improved synergies. In its role as the world’s leading democracy, the U.S. has a responsibility to make itself readily available to assist in the resolution of any difficulties that may arise from the new relationship. Strategic bonds between Tel Aviv, New Delhi and Washington should also be explored, with an emphasis on fluidity and informality, not rigidity—such a convergence of democratic beliefs and interests should continue to be a hallmark of U.S. foreign policy.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:20 AM


India Chooses Russian Planes
Yesterday, the aviation show Aero India came to the end. The negotiations between Russian firms and Indian Armed Forces authorities, that happened during the exhibition, proved that Russia has good outlooks in this country. But they won’t be monopolists in the Indian sky for Delhi is interested in the technology acquisition.

The tender of providing the Indian Air Forces with 126 multifunctional fighters was the major topic discussed on the exhibition. The price is some $4.5 billion. The tender winner will provide the majority of the planes; the rest will be assembled on the Indian factories. Last December, the Ministry of Defense of India sent invitations to participate in the tender to the Russian MiG, with their fighters MiG-29M, French Dassault with Mirage 2000-V, Swedish Saab with GAF-30 Grippen and American Lockheed Martin with their F-16 Block 60. The tender will be announced in March. But, the Indian military officials’ statements reduced the number of the participants to two. Firstly, at the opening, the Minister of Defense Shri Pranab Mukherjee said, “ former American sanctions make India anxiously consider the purchase of the military and aviation technics from the USA.” It should be marked that Washington has just abolished the sanctions against India regarding the arm supply that were introduced in 1998, after the nuclear tests. Besides, the minister added that India is interested in the acquisition of the technologies, which is the USA are always against. So, Mukherjee let understand that Delhi is not intended to buy F-16.

Besides, a high rank representative of the Indian Air Forces told to the Kommersant’s reporter that Swedish Groppens don’t meet the requirements of the tender, besides they are using American engines. So they consider only Mirage-2000 and MiG- 29M2. “The Russian fighter takes priority of the French one.”- the resource said. “HAL Corporation will easily master the production at its plant in Nasik. But presently the plant is busy with the assembling Russian Su-30MKI fighters. Besides, India has always supported the principal of diversification in the military acquisitions. If we buy heavy fighters from Russia, then we will buy the medium fighters from another country. But MiG has the chances. A lot will depend on the prices and the conditions on which the technology is provided.”

According to the high rank authority from the Russian delegation, even if MiG doesn’t win in the tender, it will possibly get a lot of contracts from India in the nearest future. This will be a re-order of another 30 sea-launched fighters MiG- 29K for $1.5 billion, for the granted to India aircraft carrier “Admiral Gorshkov”. This number was provided by the option in the contract of January 2004, when India bought first 16 MiG-29Ks. By 2008 India is intended to make a contract on supply of 40-50 sea-launched fighters for some two billion dollars for its aircraft carrier ADF, which is to be started being build this spring. They can be MiG-29K too. Moreover, Indian Air Forces, MiG Corporation and Rosoboronexport will sign the agreement on modernization of the 50 planes MiG-29 that has been delivered before. According to the head of MiG Aleksey Fedorov, the contract price is some hundreds of millions of dollars.

During the exhibition, there were Russian-Indian negotiations on the co-production and co-financing of the fighter of the fifth generation. The news for Russia was not as good as that. The Director of the Aviation and Space Agency Maharat Verma told Kommersant that “they are waiting to the Ministry of Defense to confirm the financing of the development of the fifth generation fighters MCA in the volume of $1.2 billion. The ministry wants it to be 20 metric tons. We negotiated with the Russians on the co-productions, but Russia has to offer Sukhoi fighter that is 35-40 metric tons. It doesn’t suit us.”

But there also was good news for Sukhoi. Ashok K. Bawedja, head of HAL Corporation reported on his intention to invest $100 million into the program of developing a regional plane RRJ, which is ten percent of the project cost.

Bawedja also said that Russian Saturn won in the tender of engines supply: HGT-36 and HGT-39. Now Saturn improves AL-55I engine. According to experts, HAL will need more than a thousand of the AL-55I engines. Russia will get not less than a billion dollars for the production of the engines and granting the technology.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:19 AM


Israel offers defence products to India
Expecting a steep increase in the forthcoming Indian Defence Budget, Israel is offering a variety of high-tech defence products and cutting-edge technologies at the Aero India event being held in South Indian city of Bangalore.

Taking part in the exposition for the fifth time, the Israeli defence industry is displaying a range of sophisticated weapons, including anti-tank missiles, electronic warfare and drones, rocket motors, communications systems and armour for lucrative deals worldwide. The Indian Air Force (IAF) is already using a wide array of Israeli-made Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). In view of the potential to export more UAVs to the Indian armed forces, Rafael, Israel’s Armament Development Authority, has unveiled its latest UAV, named Skylite, a miniature drone that can be launched from a canister.

Besides its UAVs, Rafael has put up a wide range of battle-proven solutions for air, land, ground and aerospace systems. As one of the world’s most sophisticated defence firms, Rafael provides cost-effective systems and weapons such as missiles, air defence, target acquisition, early warning airborne systems, add-on armour and mine fields breaching to many countries, especially the US.

Though Israel has a substantial arms trade with India, Israel Defence ministry or Sibat officials declined to spell out details of the contracts and the business generated from the existing deals. According to the US-based Defence News’ latest issue, Israel’s defence industry had sold arms and munitions to India valued at $2.7 billion in 2003, constituting about 30 percent of its total orders. Quoting sources, the official web site of Aero India indicated that Rafael would sign a $25-million deal with the Indian Navy to provide about 20 Derby missiles that can be fired beyond visual range. “The missiles are designated to be used by Harriers stationed on India’s aircraft carrier,” said the web site, hosted by the Indian defence ministry. iftikhar gilani


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:17 AM


Large Indian presence at Abu Dhabi military show
India has a big presence in the Middle East's largest military show that opened here Sunday, with the BrahMos cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia receiving a slew of enquiries.

Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and deputy supreme commander of the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) inaugurated the International Defence Exhibition (Idex 2005), which has 905 exhibitors from over 50 countries.

With Gulf countries being one of the most lucrative markets for international arms manufacturers, the show assumes importance as top international firms vie for the region's huge military budgets.

BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile, has received many enquiries, and the two countries - India and Russia - would soon shortlist potential buyers.

The missile, named after the Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers, is touted to be unique and superior to the US Tomahawk missile after six successful trials since June 2001.

Said A. Shivathanu Pillai, the CEO and managing director of BrahMos and chief controller (research and development) of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO): "This is the second time BrahMos has come to Idex."

Pillai said the Indian Navy had given the green signal for inducting the BrahMos on its warships. In a recent test with a decommissioned Indian ship as the target, the missile scored a perfect hit.

"In one shot BrahMos hit the bull's eye. We have done six launches so far and all were successful," he said.

India and Russia have now reached a stage where they will decide as to which nations the BrahMos would be sold to, according to Pillai, who is visiting UAE as part of Idex 2005.

"We have received queries from a number of nations who wish to add the BrahMos missile to their arsenal and I would say India and Russia have now reached a stage to shortlist these countries."

The company that makes BrahMos was established in India as a joint venture through an inter-governmental agreement signed by India and Russia in February 1998.

BrahMos began with an initial investment of $250 million (50.5 percent Indian and 49.5 percent Russian). Pillai said the missile, with a strike range of about 300 km, was in the process of induction into India's armed forces.

In 2003 alone, the defence spending of six Gulf states - Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar and Oman - was $25.38 billion. The response to this year's Idex is a clear indication of how important these markets are for military equipment makers.

Experts said that in coming years, expenditure on defence and security by the GCC countries might come down despite regional instability and security threats.

Ahmad Humaid Al Mazrouei, director-general of General Exhibitions Corp (GEC), the show's organiser, said: "Idex 2005 promises to be an action packed and exciting event befitting the prominence and stature that previous editions of Idex have achieved.

"Idex has established itself as one of the most prestigious defence exhibitions worldwide and this edition is the biggest and most comprehensive ever as it offers an opportunity to key decision makers, defence ministers, chiefs of staff and senior officers from the defence forces to network with defence equipment manufacturers."

Among GCC states, Saudi Arabia spent the highest in 2003 on defence, totalling $18.40 billion, while Oman came next ($2.24 billion).

Kuwait's expenditure was put at $1.9 billion while that of UAE at $1.6 billion. Qatar's defence bill totalled $723 million and Bahrain's $520 million.

Though there is no official word, the UAE is finalising a contract for a low-level ballistic missile interception system for national defence and for a high-level missile interception for regional defence.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:15 AM


India developing ballistic missile defence regime
India is developing its own "effective" ballistic missile defence system on the basis of Prithvi missile and the Greenpine Radar, acquired from Israel.

The DRDO will attempt to integrate this system into an "effective" missile defence within a five-to-seven years span, said a news report carried by leading Indian daily "The Hindustan Times" quoting highly placed sources.

"India has set out to configure its own ballistic missile defence on the basis of Prithvi missile and the Israeli Greenpine radar" added the report.

India was earlier considering an Israeli Arrow-based missile defence cover for the purpose, the report maintained.

Head of DRDO's Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme, V K Saraswat confirmed the existence of the ballistic missile defence programme without divulging the details of the configuration.

"The system is intended to provide an area missile defence cover in a radius of over 200 km", he added.

India has already acquired Greenpine radars from Israel. The range of the Prithvi short-range ballistic missile, he said was being enhanced to 350 km.

There would be no more developmental test-firings of the 700 km Angi-I and 2500 km Agni-II missiles, he disclosed.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:13 AM


US firms keen on JV
In a dramatic somersault, US companies at Aero India have shown a strong inclination to work with Indian companies through joint ventures, partnerships and a willingness to transfer technologies.

A major order being looked at is for six E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airborne early warning aircraft to the Indian Navy.

Also, RQ-8A Fire Scout unmanned helicopters for reconnaissance are being offered by the US defence company Northrop Grumann for the Indian army and the Coast Guard, senior company officials told FE.

The E-2C Hawkeye 2000 is the only dedicated Naval carrier-borne fixed wing AWACS aircraft in the export market today. Northrop Grumann company officials will be making advance level presentations and discussions starting Monday onwards in New Delhi to Indian Navy procurement board and defence ministry officials.

The company officials have been invited by the the chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash to clear concerns that the system may not be suitable for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that India is in the process of acquiring from Russia, officials said. Senior officers from the Army and the Coast Guard have expressed interest in the Fire Scout Unmanned Helicopter and presentations will be made for them too in New Delhi, company officials said.

“We are convinced that we will have to do joint programmes with the Indian industry once the order comes through for any of our systems,’’ they added. And we are also open to outsourcing, they said. Adding, Indian Navy officials have made it clear that if Hawkeye deal is finalised that the sub-systems will have to sourced from India and the integration will be done jointly.

The Indian Navy had first sent a request for information to Northrop Grumman in early 2004, and the response came with details of the Hawkeye 2000 in October. However, while the Hawkeye needs a catapult jump on an aircraft carrier, the Admiral Gorshkov has a ski jump, and so does the INS Viraat and the Air Defence Ship currently being built indigenously. The RQ-8A Fire Scout system can provide reconnaissance, situational awareness and precision targeting support.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:06 AM


Dassault Aviation makes strong pitch for IAF order
Terming the latest variant of the versatile Mirage fighter -- the 2005-5 MkII -- as the best of 'airpowerment', Dassault Aviation is making a strong bid to land the Indian Air Force's order for 125 multi-role fighters.

Defining 'airpowerment' as ''a (country's) capability to use its air assets at their best,'' Dassault claims the Mirage, which proved its value in 'Operation Safed Sagar,' offers ''incomparable effectiveness, unmatched quality, total independence, tight budget control and superior maintainability.'' Highlighting the fighter's invaluable contribution during the Kargil conflict, where it carried over 500 sorties delivering about 55,000 kg of ordnance on enemy positions, despite not having a dedicated high-altitude ground attack capability, the French aviation major stresses the new version's unique features.

''The Mirage 2000-5 MkII is an air force in itself, with its wide range of advance weapons and sensors designed to defeat all known and foreseeable adversaries in air combat and strike ground targets with outstanding precision at stand-off ranges,'' Dassault sources told UNI.

The plane can carry out the whole spectrum of air operations -- air defence, air superiority, close air support, strike, penetration, anti-ship attack, in flight-refuelling ('buddy refuelling'), photo recon missions and electronic warfare, they said, adding that with the adoption of a 'Modular Data Processing Unit (MDPU),' new weapons can be easily integrated, while the buyer can choose across a wide range of operational requirement to meet his ''most stringent requirements.'' The new version is equipped with the RDY-2 multimode radar, whose multitarget capabilities enable the pilot to track upto eight targets, out of the 24 displayed, in the track-while-scan mode, irrespective of their flying altitudes and aspects. It can fire simultaneously at four of these.

In the ground-attack role, the long range SAR mode delivers high-resolution images for stand-off engagement of naval and ground targets.

Meanwhile, the Integrated Counter Measures System (ICMS) electronic warfare suite equips the Mirage to defeat all known threats and survive over any hostile battlefield. The internally-mounted ICMS includes an advanced radio frequency surveillance/warning receiver, a powerful jammer and decoy dispensers plus an additional missile launch detector.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:01 AM


Russia, India draft agreement on MiG-29 modernization
Russia and India have drafted a general agreement on cooperation in the modernization of MiG-29 fighter jets for the Indian Air Force, representatives of Rosoboronexport and the Urals Optical Mechanical Plant said at a joint press conference on Friday.

The plant and the MiG Corporation are the main contractors.

The agreement will be signed soon, plant general director Veniamin Elinson said. It is primarily a matter of high-tech optical radar and targeting stations, which determine the jet’s potential and combat efficiency. “India is a strategic partner of the Urals Optical Mechanical Plant, because it has plenty of Russian-made aircraft and their onboard electronic systems need modernization,” he said.

“The Urals plant is a long-standing partner and leading enterprise of Rosoboronexport,” Rosoboronexport deputy general director Viktor Komardin said. “The Urals plant is known for its reliability, high quality of products and profound research.”


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:59 AM


US, India deepen aviation ties
India opened an international air show on Wednesday displaying its interest in buying military and civilian planes from the United States, but sought assurances that sanctions over its nuclear programme won't be re-imposed.

"With the possibility of sanctions, (America's) credibility as a supplier is in question," Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee said on the sidelines of Aero India, a biennial show in the southern city of Bangalore where US defence contractors are displaying their wares.

Mukherjee said India needs to ensure uninterrupted supply of spares and technology for any defence system it purchases. But he said India was eager to find common ground with the United States and begin buying fighter aircraft and other military technology.

Both countries said they are working toward a strategic defence partnership and want to get over Cold War hostility and the impact of the sanctions imposed by the United States after India's 1998 nuclear tests.

"I think any mistrust between India and the United States is a thing of the past," said Dennys Plessas, vice president of Lockheed Martin, the United States' largest defence contractor.

His company announced it will share with India the know-how to build and maintain its P-3C Orion patrol plane if India's navy agrees to buy the aircraft.

"This agreement, approved by our government, is proof that the relations between the two countries is getting to be very strong," he said.

Meanwhile, aircraft maker Boeing said a new Indian budget airline has agreed to buy 10 passenger jets with options to buy 10 more in a deal worth US$1.26 billion at list prices.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:56 AM


Pak will be failed state by 2015: CIA
Pakistan will be a "failed" state by 2015 as it would be affected by civil war, complete Talibanisation and struggle for control of its nuclear weapons, premier US intelligence agencies have said in an assessment report.

Forecasting a "Yugoslavia-like fate" for Pakistan, the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in a jointly prepared Global Futures Assessment Report have said "by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation".

"Pakistan will not recover easily from decades of political and economic mismanagement, divisive policies, lawlessness, corruption and ethnic friction," said the report quoted by former Pakistan High Commissioner to United Kingdom Wajid Shamsul Hasan in an article in the ' South Asia Tribune '.

Titled 'Will Pakistan Army invade Balochistan as per the NIC-CIA Plan', the former senior diplomat said "in the context of Balochistan, one would like to refer to the 2015 NIC report. It forecast a Yugoslavia-like fate for Pakistan.

"The military operation that has been put in motion there would further distance the Baloch people from rest of the country. That perhaps is the (NIC-CIA) Plan," Hasan said.

"Nascent democratic reforms will produce little change in the face of opposition from an entrenched political elite and radical Islamic parties. In a climate of continuing domestic turmoil, the Central government's control probably will be reduced to the Punjabi heartland and the economic hub of Karachi," the former diplomat quoted the NIC-CIA report as saying.

Expressing apprehension, Hasan asked, "are our military rulers working on a similar agenda or something that has been laid out for them in the various assessment reports over the years by the National Intelligence Council in joint collaboration with CIA?"

His article comes in the backdrop of growing violence between the Balochis and the Pakistani security forces stationed in the gas-rich province.

The recent moves by the security forces to evict all residents within a 15-km radius of the Pakistan's biggest Sui gas plant and the decision to create a cantonment near it has given a fillip to the anti-Islamabad insurgent activities of Balochi groups like the Balochistan Liberation Army, reports said.

The reports said Pakistan was taking the "most drastic step yet" in its bid to crush a deadly tribal rebellion by forcibly evicting all residents from around 500 dwellings within 15 kilometres of the country's biggest Sui gasfield.

The Army says such a step would prevent further attacks and protect residents from the devastating consequences of a major explosion, the reports said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:53 AM


Army to buy 12 unmanned planes for surveillance
The Indian Army is buying 12 Nishant unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) for reconnaissance and surveillance operations, while the Indian Air Force has also expressed interest in acquiring the indigenously developed UAV, a top DRDO offic
ial said today.

" Nishant has met all the requirements of the Armed forces, currently there is an immediate order for 12 units from the Army," DRDO Controller R&D Dipankar Banerjee told reporters here at the Aero India 2005 air show.

He said there was a "possible order" for the Nishant UAV's from the Indian Air Force, but this would depend on the the Army's satisfaction.

Nishant , designed and developed by DRDO's Bangalore-based Aeronautical Development Establishment, has an endurance of over four hours with a 45 kg payload carrying capability and has an integrated sensor package that includes a 35mm mini pan camera.

Banerjee said the ADE has taken up several long-range UAV programmes which include several variants of Nishant.

"We are exploring tie-ups with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and other companies," he said, when asked about DRDO's manufacturing plans for the UAV's.

"We have to discuss this with the Israel government (the media reports) and we are hopeful in getting the order," Banerjee said, when asked about reports on Israel dumping indigenous pilotless target aircraft (PTA) Lakshya in favour of American system.

"We made an offer to Israel and we conducted a demonstration with them. They did not want to buy Lakshya , but what they wanted is lease operations. We have not heard back from them," he said.

Stating that India did not have any current programme to develop Unmanned combat air vehicles (UCAV), Banerjee said "it is still one generation ahead. Like any other country we are also obviously thinking of UCAV's, but there is no programme."

He said the country had gained knowledge on building UAV's for surveillance and reconnaissance but "weapons delivery is still an advanced technology."

Banerjee said India possessed the baseline technology with the development of the LCA's fly-by-control system, but shot back saying "I wouldn't even speculate," when asked how close is India to start an UCAV programme


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 12:48 PM


IT warfare new mantra of Indian Army
Indian Army chief Gen. J.J. Singh Friday said IT warfare is the new mantra of the armed forces in their attempts at defending the country from any possible external aggression.

"There is a massive revolution going on in the army set-up with the thrust area being IT, where satellite images can be received on palmtop computers and then relayed to the soldiers on the ground," Singh told reporters in Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"From getting new weapons and hi-tech equipment, including night fighting devices, we will have an army which will be victorious in the next war, if any."

He concluded Friday a two-day visit to the insurgency-hit northeast. His first visit since taking over as the army chief last week was to Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh said the central government was according topmost priority to the army's modernisation plans.

"Our army is well prepared to defend the nation against any external aggression," he said. "We do not have any desire to challenge our neighbours, but if challenged we will come out with flying colours."

The general admitted India was taken by surprise during the Kargil war.

"We were surprised in Kargil, but we recaptured and threw out the aggressors," he added.

Singh said troops had been given strict instructions to avoid civilian casualties while fighting terrorists and militants in the northeastern region and in Jammu and Kashmir.

"Our soldiers will deal with terrorists very firmly but at the same time they will wear a velvet glove while dealing with civilians to avoid collateral damage," the army chief said.

Singh said military-to-military cooperation between India and Myanmar was proceeding positively, with the two countries serious in eliminating northeastern rebels holed up inside Myanmar.

"There is no need for a joint operation right now. But if the situation demands, we will think about it," the army chief said.

At least a dozen separatist groups from India's northeast have bases inside Myanmar from where they carry out hit-and-run guerrilla strikes on soldiers in the region.

"The insurgency situation is fast improving in the northeast and we must ensure the level comes down to a manageable limit," Singh said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 12:47 PM


India plans on buying 20 American aircraft: Lockheed
Americas biggest defence firm Lockheed Martin on Thursday said India is planning to buy about 12 P-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft and about eight C-130J Hercules transport aircraft for its navy and the air force.
"Indian Navy is looking at acquiring anywhere between eight and twelve P-3C Orion and the IAF is planning a smaller number of C-130J Hercules, between six and eight," Lockheed Martin Aerospace Company regional vice president Dennys Plessas told reporters in Bangalore at the Aero India air show.

He said the US Government had issued export licenses for selling the two aircraft to India and US Navy officials would visit New Delhi to discuss with Indian Navy officials about the P-3C Orion planes.

Lockheed on Wednesday said it would reveal the sensitive technology behind the P-3C Orion naval aircraft, to state run aircraft maker Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, the first such by the US with India.

"We believe that the P-3C aircraft will become an important inventory in the Indian navy," Plessas said, adding that Lockheed was in talks with HAL for sourcing components, training and having a service team ready here when the deal comes through. Besides the Hercules C-130J, he said, Lockheed was also in talks with the Indian Air Force and the Border Security Force to sell the C-27J, 10 tonne, multi-mission airlifter, that can carry about 63 troops.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 12:46 PM


Admiral's visit fuels speculation of Su-30 MKI induction
With the formal induction of the multi-role Sukhois in the Navy pending, was the chief of naval staff, admiral Arun Prakash's trip to the Pune air base more than a courtesy visit, as claimed by officials from the air base?

While Indian air force officials (IAF) here only described the CNS' visit as a courtesy one to the no. 20 squadron, which is housed at the Pune air base now, indications are clear that the admiral was here on "a specific task."

The 20 squadron currently operates two lethal and technically advanced weapon platforms, namely the Sukhoi 30 MKIs and the Mig 21s.

Despite repeated attempts, tight-lipped officials of the Indian air force (IAF), said admiral Prakash paid a visit to the air base on Thursday to the squadron 20, adding "the admiral was attached to this particular squadron of IAF during the 1971 Indo-Pak war, and then as a young lieutenant, piloted the Hunter aircraft."

As a senior Navy official later confirmed, Admiral Prakash has been strongly advocating the need to enhance the Navy's capability for maritime strikes. "A fighter pilot himself, the CNS' visit was aimed at understanding issues related to Su-30 MKIs role in maritime operations."

The Lohagaon air base has already readied a few advanced Sukhoi-30 MKI combat jets for a maritime role, equipped with additional air-to-surface missiles apart from the air-to-air missiles. Sources in the ministry of defence said this conversion would add more teeth to the Indian Navy's striking power, while allowing an upgradation to the maritime Jaguars.

"The formal induction date has not yet been finalised, but training and other issues are being taken care at the IAF base at Lohagaon," said an official from the Western Naval headquarter, pointing out that compared to flying from a land base, the maritime role would require flying long distance over the sea.

Although the Indian Navy is yet to venture on a sensitive mission, as compared to the army and air force, the government's recent decision to develop the navy as a strategic force with military importance is a clear indication that the admiral's visit to the Pune air base was more than a courtesy one, a defence official explained.

"The conversion of the Su-30 MKIs is part of this process to equip the navy with nuclear-powered and strategic bomber/maritime strike aircrafts and submarines," the official added.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 12:45 PM


US arms sales to India tripled in 2004
US ambassador David C. Mulford Wednesday said his country wanted to step up defence cooperation and arms sales to India, which had tripled over a period of one year to touch Rs.770 million ($17.7 million) in 2004.

The trend was set to continue in 2005, with defence sales expected to rise to Rs.2.7 billion ($64 million), Mulford told the first meeting here of the US-India Industry Working Group on defence technology.

"Commercial military sales to India have tripled from Rs.240 million in 2003 to Rs.770 million in 2004 and are projected to surge to Rs.2.7 billion in 2005."

The US had approved over 700 export licenses for direct commercial defence sales to India after President George W. Bush lifted sanctions against India in 2001.

The lifting of sanctions resulted in an increase in the export of controlled dual-use items to India. Licences have been approved for export of 90 percent of dual-use items sought by India, an official statement said.

The working group's meeting was held under the auspices of the High Tech Cooperation Group (HTCG). The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the US-India Business Council (USIBC) organised the meeting.

Maj. Gen. H.S. Sehgal represented India's defence ministry at the meeting.

The HTCG is part of the Next Steps in Strategic Partnership (NSSP), a US-India initiative that seeks to promote collaboration between the two sides in high technology, civil space and nuclear activities, and dialogue on missile defence.

Mulford said the US was committed to an enduring relationship with India in all areas -- strategic and military, economic and scientific, educational and cultural.

The HTCG meeting, he said, should identify specific new opportunities for cooperation in defence. As military ties between two countries expanded, the US would seek new opportunities to partner with India.

Besides defence technology, the HTCG looks at cooperation in IT, biotechnology, and nanotechnology.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:08 AM


HAL to embark on projects for Indian Air Force
Defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) will embark on two more indigenous projects - a Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and a Combat Attack Trainer (CAT) - for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the global market subsequently.

HAL chairman Ashok K. Baweja told a news conference Thursday at the Aero India exhibition that the public sector company had proposed to IAF a dedicated LCH, which would be an upgraded version of the Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) for combat operations.

"The LCH proposal is at an advanced stage of consideration by IAF, which is our main customer in the domestic market. We have designed and developed a mock-up model to showcase its capabilities and strengths in battlefield. We are awaiting clearance to go ahead with the project," Baweja said.

Though HAL will be currently focusing on its first three indigenously built aircraft, namely the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) and the ALH, it has drawn up plans to take up the LCH and CAT projects over the next five years.

"We have displayed a mock-up model of the CAT at Aero India for consideration by the IAF as well as global customers. It is an advanced aircraft, modelled on the twin-engine, tandem seater IJT. It will be positioned between the British Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) and the LCA.

"We have submitted a concept report to the IAF for considering CAT as a design and development project. Besides the three existing products, HAL will be engaged in developing the next two indigenous projects (LCH and CAT) during the next 5-10 years," Baweja disclosed.

Meanwhile, HAL has taken up weaponisation of ALH to carry guns, rockets and missiles. They will be inducted by the three defence services -- IAF, Indian Army and Indian Navy.

"We have also taken up a massive upgradation programme for the various aircraft which are being operated by the three services. For instance, the MiG-21 is being upgraded as MiG-21BIS with the latest cockpit, mission controls and avionics.

"Similarly, Jaguar, MiG-27 and MiG-29 of the IAF will be upgraded. Chetak and Cheetah helicopters, which are being used by all the three services, are also being upgraded as Chetan and Cheetal. Sea Harriers of the Indian Navy are due for upgradation," Baweja added.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:07 AM


India sees military-technical cooperation with Russia as priority
Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee considers military-technical cooperation with Russia as a model of partner relations in the field of defence technology, ARM-TASS said.

Mekherjee said at an international seminar on Aerospace Technology: Development and Strategy, which is being held on the sidelines of an air show in Bangalore, that one of the most significant Russian-Indian projects, Bramos, could be taken as an example of setting up joint ventures and a project of building Su-30 MKI fighter jets as an excellent model of licensed production.

India highly values close cooperation between specialists of te two countries who share the experience and technical achievements for getting effective solutions, Mukherjee said about Bramos project.

As for the Su-30 MKI licensed production project, he called it a “brilliant example” of how the Indian industry can improve warplanes using its own know-how.

The deputy director-general of Russia’s arms-exporting company Viktor Komardin said “organisers of Aero India-2005 are demonstrating at the air show an especially respectful attitude toward Russia”.

“In particular, the most conveniently placed pavilion has been given for the Russian exposition. Besides, the Indian defence minister has visited the Russian exposition first of all, giving it significant attention and time”.

Mukherjee was shown the expositions of the Sukhoi company producing Su-30 MKI jets and of Irkut, Saturn and some other companies.

“Russia is traditionally broadly represented at air shows in Bangalore and helps growth of their prestige,” Komardin said.

He said Aero India-2005 was increasingly popular, attracting more visitors and participants every year, primarily from South and Southeast Asia.

“Forming the Russian exposition, Rosoboroneksport takes into account this factor and orients it not only toward India but also other potential customers in this region,” Komardin said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:06 AM


Impact of Indo-Israel nexus on Iran
NEW Delhi accorded formal recognition to Israel in 1950. In view of Israel’s human rights abuses in Palestine and high stakes of India in Middle Eastern countries, India kept the relationship at a low key.

Normalisation came more than four decades after India recognised Israel. The post-9/11 scenario changed things and gave India an opportunity to exploit the situation to gain maximum from the West by taking a U-turn in its foreign policy. With the US granting India the status of a strategic partner, India was encouraged to snuggle closer to the US at the cost of Russia. The US and Israel have always enjoyed exceptional relationship. Hence, India has become a natural ally and strategic partner of both the countries. Its relationship with Iran remains unchanged, but it will be difficult for India to maintain the same tempo because of the open hostility of its new friends towards Iran.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s visit to India in 2003 gave birth to a new era of special relations between the two countries. The United States and Israel are not at all happy with India’s close ties with the Islamic regime in Iran. But if India has continued to pursue its policy of encirclement of Pakistan, it needs to maintain close ties with Iran, Afghanistan and other Central Asian countries bordering Pakistan. The US and Israel have signalled many times to India to keep at a distance from Iran. But India continues to maintain close relations with Iran for economic reasons and to undermine Pakistan.

The Indo-Israeli relations are based on a rock solid foundation, posing a direct threat to Iran. Both countries are getting closer to each other with every passing day. The Israeli Vice Premier visited India in December 2004 along with an accompanying delegation of 100 businessmen. During the visit several agreements were concluded to boost cooperation between the two countries. Indian trade with Israel is growing exponentially with a target of US$5 billion in three years. In 2004, Indo-Israeli trade would cross US $2 billion.

On December 2, 2004, Indo-Israel Joint Working Group in New Delhi discussed measures to curb terror financing and denying terrorists the capability to use anti-aircraft missiles. The two sides were of the view that recent resolutions of the UN Security Council, particularly 1373, 1540 and 1566, provided a valuable framework for strengthening cooperation against terrorism at the international level. The two countries have repeatedly stressed on the growing need for counter-terrorism cooperation within the international community, specifically to strengthen political will and capacity building. While there is active cooperation between the two countries in the field, little of it is publicised for security reasons and sensitivity of the issue with relation to Iran.

Another agreement that was concluded during the visit of the Israeli Vice Premier relates to establishment of a bilateral R&D fund and R&D cooperation. Each partner will invest $1 million annually in the fund. The fund will be called the India-Israel R&D Cooperation Initiative (IIRDCI). Israel signed a letter of intent to promote research and development in areas such as advanced materials and nanotechnology to produce products targeting world market. Currently, there are 37 projects in Science and Technology between the two sides and there have also been many scientific visits.

The Israeli delegation to ‘India had representatives from 50 companies. During the four-day visit to Mumbai, Delhi and Banglore, Olmert met with ministers of Industry and Trade from several states, and with the Indian Minister of Agriculture, discussing cooperation between companies from the two countries, both in India and in Third Wrold countries. Olmert discussed the inclusion of Israeli companies in government tenders in India. Discussions were also held towards the signing of a future customs exemption/reduction agreement, in order to substantially boost Israeli civilian exports to India and improve cooperation between customs authorities in the two countries. A financial protocol was also discussed, as well as the inclusion of Israeli companies in the upgrading of agriculture in India. Meetings were also held with the Indian Minister of Communications and Information Technology for implementation of the R&D agreement for information technology, which the two countries signed in 2002. The penetration of communications technology, especially cellular technology, also came under discussion. The Indian Government plans to hook up every village to at least one satellite communications line (in order to avoid the high cost of installing land lines). The Government Communications Company will implement the project, but the potential for including Israeli companies is great. Talking to journalists, Ehud Olmert said he expected no difficulties in dealing with India’s Congress Party. “It was the Congress Government which established friendly relations with us and I find no difference in policy of the previous Government and the present regime,” Mr Olmert said.

During the visit India agreed not to pass Israeli defence technology on to Iran. Israel was assured of this at the highest level. This was in response to Sharon’s demand from India what he called “reciprocity”. In return for the Phalcon radar system and sensitive intelligence reports on terrorism, for instance, Israel asked India to disavow anti-Israel resolutions in the UN and other multilateral bodies. More significant, it also asked India to be mindful of Israel’s security concerns before developing even closer ties with Iran. Israel is seriously concerned about India-Iran ties.

The Hindutva philosophy has taken roots in India. The Hindutva philosophy of “cultural nationalism” looks at the world Muslim community as one nation. Hindutva’s cultural nationalism predates Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” theory by almost a century. The idea of a Muslim monolith is so deeply ingrained that even if they try to do so, Hindutva ideologues confess that they are unable to distinguish between Muslims of different countries. In time to come they would expect India to go along with Israel and the United States in destroying Iran, the second destination, after Iraq, in President George W Bush’s war against his “axis of evil”. A ‘nuclear Iran suspected of supporting Palestinians and organisations sympathetic to them, faces a great threat of attack on its nuclear installations, which may be sooner rather than later. India would support such an operation clandestinely, while opposing it in the eyes of the world, not to annoy Iran because of economic reasons.

After all, following destruction comes reconstruction in which India would not like to lose. “We hope that India will try to civilize the Iranians, “ the Israeli Vice Premier said during the visit. Israel is keen that India display greater awareness on how a possible possession of WMD by Iran could destabilise West Asia. The two sides freely exchanged views on the developing threat of WMD possibly falling into hands of terrorist organisations.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:05 AM


US fighters out of sky show
While the skies over Yelahanka Air Force Station were abuzz with screaming jets displaying breathtaking manoeuvres, two fighters from the United States Air Force (USAF) have been grounded.

‘‘Given a chance, I would love to be up there in the sky,’’ one of the F15E pilots, Zacher D. Bartoe said, pointing to a Su-30 KMI on Thursday. ‘‘We can show our manoeuvres too,’’ he added. ‘‘Since we came late, there was no slot for us to fly,’’ the USAF pilot said.

The F-15Es landed at the AF station only on Tuesday. Like their Russian counterpart Pavel Vlasov, an MiG 29M2 pilot, the F15E pilot too says it’s difficult to compare SU-30s and their aircraft. ‘‘It is a very nice experience to see all these jets, which we normally do not get to see in the US,’’ he added.

Now, the two twin-engined jets are on display on ground and the pilots explain their ‘‘advanced’’ features to curious visitors.

The presence of F-15Es at the event had aroused much curiosity among serious aviators and the audience as, for the first time, they were expected to come face to face with Russian fighters at Aero India.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:03 AM


Tejas to be inducted into IAF by 2008
It's official now that Tejas, the light combat fighter developed by Hindustan Aeronautical Limited, will fly in Indian Air Force colours.

The government has now signed an MoU with HAL for 40 of the jets, which have been in development for more than two decades.

"I have just announced that I will be signing the contract first," said Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi.

But none of the jets are expected to enter the IAF until 2008.

Tejas is presently displaying its flying prowess at the ongoing 5th Aero India show in Bangalore.

However, the Hindustan Aeronautics now has its task cut out. Though the LCA flight-test programme has been incident free, a lot of subsystems like radar systems, missiles and avionics are still being developed.

But it's not just the Tejas that the IAF is looking at. More immediately, the IAF urgently requires 126 fighters to replace old MiG fighters, which are now obsolete, and being retired.

The competition to select this new generation jet is now all set to begin, in what will ultimately be one of the biggest defense deals India will have ever signed.

The fly-off is between Dassault, which manufacturers the Mirage 2000, a jet the IAF already operates, an updated version of the MiG-29 manufactured by Russia, the American F-16 and the Swedish Gripen, which is marketed by British Aerospace.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:02 AM


US firm to clear air on Hawkeye
US defence firm Northrop Grumman, which is looking to sell six E-2C Hawkeye 2000 airborne early warning aircraft to the Indian Navy, has been invited by Naval Headquarters to clear concerns that the system may not be suitable for the Admiral Gorshkov aircraft carrier that India is in the process of acquiring. The company’s Director (AEW programmes) David Murray will be meeting the Navy’s controller of warship production and acquisition, Vice-Admiral J.S. Bedi, on February 14.

The Navy first sent a request for information (RFI) to Northrop Grumman in early 2004, the company replied with details of the Hawkeye 2000 in October. However, while the Hawkeye needs a catapult jump on an aircraft carrier, the Gorshkov has a ski jump, and so do the INS Viraat and the Air Defence Ship currently being built indigenously. The Hawkeye 2000 would be used by the Navy to guide carrier-borne MiG-29s and Harriers on fleet-defending and combat missions.

Murray told The Indian Express: ‘‘We did an assessment with the US Navy, and now believe that it is possible to launch the Hawkeye, with appropriate modifications, from the Gorshkov’s angle deck in the absence of a catapult jump. We will present our findings to the Navy next week, constituting a second order level of detail of the assessment we have made.’’

The Hawkeye is the only dedicated Naval carrier-borne fixed wing AWACS aircraft in the export market today.

While Northrop Grumman will have to prove through a demonstration that the Hawkeye can be deployed from the Gorshkov or Viraat’s angle decks, for now it will use ‘‘existing US Navy performance charts, engineering models, open source information on Gorshkov’s dimensions and meteorological conditions in the Indian Ocean — since we know the dimensions and statistics of MiG-29 fighters used off the Gorshkov, we will use that data as well in our study’’.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:00 AM


Derby missiles for navy's Sea Harrier aircraft
An Israeli defence company has won the contract to supply 20 Derby missiles and six practice missiles for the Indian Navy's Sea Harrier aircraft.

Rafael Armament Development Authority Ltd won the tender worth $ 25 million.

The missiles, which can be fired beyond visual range, are designated for Indian Navy's Sea Harrier vertical takeoff planes stationed on aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

With a maximum range of 20 km and flying speed of Mach 1.2, the Derby missiles can lock in on the target even before being launched or shortly after its launch.

A delegation from the Indian Navy currently visiting Israel is likely to sign the contract, defence sources told PTI.

The Israeli company will also supply racks and trailers for transferring and installing the missiles, besides sending experts to train the Indian Navy in its maintenance and operation.

The details of the negotiations are said to have been worked out towards the end of last month.

The supply of the system will take between three and four years, the sources said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:59 AM


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