It's been a while, but as they say, better late than never. We finally made some time to redesign our blog and soon we will have our own independent website. The blog helped us reach a huge audience and generate a lot of interest in this area. As a result, the format and (utility) of the blog seems overwhelmed, hence the transittion to the dedicated site. The URL for the new site and content will be disclosed soon. Till then, enjoy the blog and continue to contribute to our posts.
US plans Indian navy liaison officer in Pacific Command
The United States plans to have an Indian navy official on the staff of the US pacific command, to bring in more cooperation between the two armed forces in fighting global terror, commander of the US Pacific Command, Admiral William Fallon, said here on Friday.
The US navy official said he had held discussions on this issue with chief of naval staff Admiral Arun Prakash during his recent visit to New Delhi earlier this week.
"The presence of an Indian liaison officer round the clock will help US better understand the intricacies in the Indian Ocean and the problems of the region," Admiral Fallon told reporters during his visit to the navy’s Western command.
The US Admiral said the Indian liaison officer could also learn a lot from his US experience and it could be a ‘win-win situation’ for both sides. "
India is planning to set up a Strategic Aerospace Command to prepare for star wars and use space for network-centric warfare in future. Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief Air Marshall S. P. Tyagi said an Aerospace Command has to be established to lay the groundwork to develop capability to degrade space weapons.
He said such a command for futuristic warfare has to be developed with the help and guidance of the country's indigenous space agency. To a question on whether India has developed a nuclear strike capability, the Air Chief, in an interaction with the media at foreign journalists club here, said the country has a "no first use nuclear doctrine" and the IAF is well-prepared to carry out swift retaliation in case of a nuclear attack. "We are a nuclear weapons state. The Government has a declared no first use nuclear policy. IAF is designed to carry out objectives as laid down by the Government in case of nuclear strike," he said.
On the recent controversy on arms deal, Tyagi said it would not affect acquisition of force multipliers like the Multi-role Combat Aircraft, Airborne Early Warning And Control System (AWACS) and the advanced Jet trainers. The government is alive to the fighter force depletion in view of phasing out of Mig-21s, he said. The Air Chief said Government would soon send the Request for Proposals (RFP) for IAF's planned acquisition of 126 Multi-role Combat Aircraft but no timeframe would be given.
"The process is on and the RFP would be sent soon," Tyagi said, indicating that besides the US F-16, Russian upgraded Mig-29, French upgraded Mirage 2000-5 and Swedish Grippen fighters were in the reckoning. He said the Request For Information (RFI) has already been received from the French, Russian, Swedish as well as the US governments. Lockheed Martin and Boeing have been cleared to bid for India's fighter deal, he added. Tyagi said IAF had asked Lockheed Martin for RFI on F-16 Fighting Falcons and not Boeing which was offering twin engined F-18 super hornet.
On the British Aerospace Hawk deal, the Air Chief said the contract had been signed and IAF was expecting delivery of the advanced Jet trainers on schedule. On whether the IAF was happy with the arms acquisition procedures, Tyagi said "left to armed forces, they would like the process to be speeded up" but in a democratic set up arms purchases has to be transparent and according to well laid out procedures which act as safeguards.
On Sino-Pak tie up for manufacture of superior super 7 fighters, the Air Chief said there was no cause for alarm as all these weapon acquisitions factored into the defence plans and suitable counter measures were taken. On the alleged air space violation by Bangladesh, he said the matter was being investigated.
India Planning Major War Games Near Rajasthan Border Next Month
To be conducted on the basis of the new War Principle, the divisional level ‘Operation Readiness’ will use the Tank Brigade testing the potential of indigenous Arjun tanks in comparison to T-90 tanks.
Field trials of Arjun tanks have been pending for a long time and that is why the Indian Army has not yet accepted it as a major war weapon.
Defence sources said Indian Army Chief General JJ Singh feels the coming war exercises are very important and “we must always test the war principles and our capacities and capabilities in order to face future challenges.”
The Indian Army had announced the new ‘War Principle’ last year and re-shaping of the ‘South Western Command’ at the Rajasthan border was then initiated. During two previous exercises, ‘Operation Parakram’ and ‘Operation Vijay’, some lacunae were detected in timely supply of arms and ammunition to the forward posts. After JJ Singh took over, the Army has begun to remove these shortfalls.
While these ground exercises continue, India is planning to join major Air War games with the US, both in India and in US later this year. These air games will be part of the Indian search effort to look for new fighter aircraft including F-16 an F-18s now being offered to New Delhi by Washington.
According to a Reuters report Indian air force (IAF) pilots will face off against US airmen in F-16 fighters in mock dogfights in November. "The joint air exercise planned with the United States in November would provide an opportunity for us to assess the capabilities of the F-16 and its suitability to our requirements," said an Indian defence spokesman in Calcutta.
Four to six F-16 jets will take part in the joint exercises spread over two weeks at the key Kalaikunda airbase, about 120 km south of Calcutta. While the US Air Force will join the exercises -- code named "Cope India" -- with F-16s, India will field its Russian-made Sukhoi Su30MKIs.
Before the US fighters come to India to take part in joint war games, India is being invited to participate in the famous Red Flag exercises, held periodically at the Nellis Air Force Base since 1975. These are known as very realistic aerial war games. Pilots from the US, NATO and other allied countries are trained for real combat situations using "enemy" hardware and live ammunition for bombing exercises within the Nellis complex.
The list of foreign countries that have participated in Red Flag exercises in the past includes: Argentina, Australia, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Korea, Malaysia, NATO, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, United Kingdom and Venezuela. Red Flag exercises last two weeks and are held almost the whole year round.
Indian Air Force teams will also join air exercises in France in June this year where Mirage planes will be on sale for New Delhi as the new Congress Government goes through its shopping process.
India is planning to buy 126 fighter aircraft. US is trying to sell aircrafts of F series but India is also looking at Mirage-2000 from France. Air Force experts are due to visit the US, Sweden, France and Russia to assess the potential of fighter aircrafts of these countries and to negotiate prices.
The sonic boom generated by the Sukhoi-30 and Jaguar strike fighters as they tear into the sky over the Andaman and Nicobar Islands gives one clear signal: India recognises the archipelago's strategic value and is ready to secure the international sea lanes converging towards the Malacca Straits.
The IAF base here, the country's last defence outpost in the eastern region, has now arisen like the mythical phoenix from the ashes, after being devastated by the gigantic tsunami on December 26.
"The fighter operations demonstrate the Carnic base is fully combat ready now...the IAF flag is flying high here once again," said a "proud" IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi.
Grappling with the numbing loss of 116 lives of personnel and families, coupled with large-scale infrastructure damage, the IAF and Army worked round-the-clock to make the base fully operational in a short span of three months.
For instance, the repair work on the 8,790-feet runway, which was partly submerged by the waves, was completed during the nights, leaving the days open for relief flights.
Situated bang in the middle of the 572-island cluster spread over 720-km, the Carnic airbase virtually straddles one of the major trade routes of the globe.
"Two strategic waterways, the six and ten degree channels, pass through here. Moreover, 30% of India's Exclusive Economic Zone is around these islands," said A&N tri-service command chief Lt-Gen Aditya Singh.
The A&N Islands may be around 1,200 km away from Kolkata and Chennai but are just under 200 km from Myanmar. The Chinese military "listening" post at Coco Islands, leased by Myanmar, is in fact just 45 km away from the archipelago's northern tip.
Though the IAF has no immediate plans to base fighter squadrons at Carnic as of now, in addition to the existing Mi-8 helicopter squadron, it's fully confident of deploying fighters in the region in a jiffy if the need arises.
The four Jaguar maritime strike aircraft and two Sukhoi-30 "air superiority" fighters, after all, flew here for the combat exercises all the way from Pune and Bareilly.
"It took a six-hour sortie, with two mid-air refuellings from IL-78 tankers and some combat manoeuvres on the way, to reach here from Bareilly. It was tough being strapped in the cockpit for such a long time but well worth the effort," beamed a young Sukhoi pilot.
Chinese navy commander hails relations with Indian navy
Hailing relations between navies of the two countries, the Chinese People Liberation Army Navy has asked for enhancing cooperation with the Indian Navy as part of efforts by the two governments to deepen mutual understanding and trust, state media reported today.
The two sides have enjoyed more frequent exchanges and deeper understanding while Sino-Indian relation develops in recent years, Commander of the Chinese People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Admiral Zhang Dingfa said.
Chinese and Indian navies will strengthen cooperation in future, Zhang said yesterday during a meeting with deputy Chief of the Indian Navy Vice Admiral Yashwant Prasad, who is here on a eight-day visit to China.
Zhang recalled that Indian naval ships have visited China four times since 1958, and Chinese fleets have visited India twice. In 2003, the two navies held a successful joint rescue exercise in the East China Sea.
Prasad also called on PLA Chief, Gen Liang Guanglie and exchanged views.
PLA Navy Deputy Commander Rear Admiral Zhang Yongyi gave a briefing on the PLA Navy. Prasad also had an interaction with Lt Gen Qian Haihao, Deputy Commandant of Academy of Military Sciences (AMS), official sources said.
Vice Admiral Prasad's visit marks ongoing high-level exchanges between the defence forces of the two sides and contributes to enhanced trust and understanding, sources said.
United States, India Seek New Level of Strategic Cooperation - Official transcript
Following is the transcript of the Rice-Singh press conference U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman April 14, 2005
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice And Indian Minister of External Affairs Natwar Singh After Their Meeting April 14, 2005 Benjamin Franklin Room Washington, D.C.(1:50 p.m. EDT)
SECRETARY RICE: Good afternoon. I am very pleased to welcome to the United States and to the State Department Foreign Minister Natwar Singh. We met not too long ago when I was in India. We have been able to continue our strategic dialogue on a number of issues.
India and the United States share much in common. We share, of course, common values as democracies, as multiethnic democracies that are committed to not just tolerance but to fully appreciating the great value of the diversity of our societies.
We share a goal for peace, stability and prosperity in Asia, as well as in the rest of the world. As I said when I was in India and have reiterated here, it is very important that the U.S.-India relationship continues to grow as we recognize the growing importance of India as a global factor. This is a development that we very much welcome.
We had an opportunity to talk about how to push our relationship to a new level, to improve our cooperation in a number of areas, to accelerate our work in our next steps in Strategic Partnership Initiative, to launch an energy dialogue that will be led on our side by our Energy Secretary and on India's side by the head of its Planning Commission.
We had an opportunity to talk about Iraq and Afghanistan and the Middle East, befitting the fact that our relationship is a broad one, and we also recognized the importance of continuing our economic dialogue.
The United States and India have demonstrated great cooperation in a number of areas. We talked about the way that we demonstrated that cooperation in the tsunami relief effort. It is a relationship that is growing, getting more important. We look forward to the visit of the Prime Minister to the United States in July for an official visit and we look forward to our continued discussion and cooperation as we move forward.
Welcome, Natwar, and now your comments.
MINISTER SINGH: Thank you, Condi.The Secretary of State and I have had very wide-ranging and very fruitful talks this morning and this is a continuation of our talks in Delhi, at what time we had agreed to meet again, and so I am delighted to be here at this time.
And our discussions, as the Secretary said, have been very wide-ranging, looking at long-term relationship across the board. This morning I had the privilege to be received by President Bush at the White House and we deeply appreciate his personal commitment to developing Indo-U.S. relations and are confident that in the second term this relationship will reach newer heights.
The President was strongly supportive of the initiative of the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to which she has made a reference in her remarks. We welcome the interest the President expressed in together working with India on the range of global issues.
We spoke about the global energy situation and the importance of our cooperation in this regard, including on civil nuclear energy. And my colleague, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, is staying back to have discussions on economic matters and matters related to the peaceful uses, civil uses of nuclear energy, and also other scientific matters.
You have, if I may say so, eloquently summarized what we discussed today and the discussions and the decisions we have arrived at. The strategic dialogue that we will co-chair will provide the political direction to our rapidly expanding bilateral ties (inaudible) the realization of the rich and diverse agenda that we have before us. The dialogue is key to our global partnership. As I said earlier, the energy dialogue that the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, and Secretary Bodman will lead together recognizes the importance of addressing growing energy demands while taking into account their environmental implications. The three main components are: civil nuclear energy, hydrocarbons and cleaner technologies.
I am particularly happy to compliment our American friends for the fresh approach they have brought to bear on a subject that is of such vital importance for us.
Our cooperation in space highlights the technology bond that is a special characteristic of our ties. As Secretary Rice indicated, we have established a joint working group and have agreed on its terms of reference. Our goal is to promote synergies in all aspects of space collaboration, including satellite fabrication and launch. The NSSP process, as the Secretary said, will be accelerated. It has been a useful and productive engagement but we are now looking at even wider horizons.
My colleague, the Defense Minister of India, is expected to visit Washington very soon and he will remark on the deeper defense relationship. This again reflects the enhanced level of our trust and understanding between us. Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia's presence also underlines the importance we attach to the economic dialogue that he chairs with Allan Hubbard. I fully share, Madame, your expectations of what this dialogue can and, I take it, will assume.
I am happy to say that our deliberations also focused on how we can effectively address global challenges. India's ability and willingness to shoulder global responsibilities has been demonstrated.
I was encouraged to hear Dr. Rice declare that the United States understands India's aspirations. This will be underlined by the dialogue that we expect to sustain on the reform of the United Nations, including the Security Council. We also agreed that India should have a more active association with the G-8. And in conclusion, may I thank you very much for your hospitality and for your friendship and for your understanding of our problems and for your goodwill and friendship.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, is it getting to be time to take your concerns about Iran to the United Nations? And is it accurately being reported the Middle East has suddenly vaulted to the top of the list of U.S. concerns over North Korea, Iran and whatever?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't think that one has to choose between policy issues, Barry. On the Iranian issue, we are engaged in an international effort to try and deal with the Iranian nuclear program, or the Iranian nuclear aspirations. For instance, the Russians have been telling us a good deal about what they are doing with Bushehr. We are obviously trying to support the EU-3 in their negotiations with the Iranians and, of course, we also have the IAEA Board of Governors approach.
At some point in time, yes, if this does not work then, of course, the Security Council remains an option. And we have made clear with our European friends that that is, in fact, the case. We believe that the diplomatic path that we are on is the appropriate path and we are determined to have a united front with the international community to convince the Iranians that they have to live up to their international obligations not to seek nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear power development.
As to the Middle East, I think it was perfectly obvious from the President's address -- State of the Union address -- that we attach enormous historic importance to the changes in the Middle East that are now beginning to unfold, to securing and helping the Iraqi people to secure a free and democratic and prosperous Iraq, helping the Palestinians and the Israelis to find a way forward from the historic disengagement that is about to take place there, and then to hopefully accelerated progress on the roadmap, that reform in the greater Middle East is of great concern to us because the generational challenge that we face is to replace the ideologies of hatred that literally lead people to fly airplanes into buildings with a belief in the hope that can be provided by freedom and democracy.
QUESTION: Dr. Rice, I have a question. Does the United States support India's bid for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council? And a related question: One of the senior administration officials said on March 25th that the goal of the U.S. policy is to make India a global power. There's a school of thought in India that says that it's a lot of words. How do you explain that and what is your reaction to that?
SECRETARY RICE: The first point that I would make is that India is becoming a global power not because the United States is making it one but because India is a democracy that is emerging to take on global responsibilities. It has the population, the reach, the increasing economic clout to do that. But the United States wants to be supportive of what we see as a positive trend in India's global role because India is a democracy and that matters to us in the global role that it is beginning to play.
We are demonstrating that we support that aspiration by the breadth of the relationship that we have with India. I think U.S.-Indian relations are at a high point. They have certainly come a very long way over a reasonably short period of time. President Bush came to office devoted to an expanded and deepened U.S.-Indian relationship and we have tried to make good on that. But we have an energy dialogue, an economic dialogue, a defense cooperation relationship. We are doing things together around the world. This is clearly a relationship that has breadth and global dimensions. And so that is how this is being demonstrated.
Now, in terms of the UN Security Council, the United States has said that we believe UN Security Council reform needs to take place in the context of broader UN reform, that it is important, of course, to reform the Secretariat, the institutions of the UN, the organizations of the UN, it needs management reform and, of course, we should also look at Security Council reform. I said when I was in India that international organizations in general will have to take into account India's growing role in the world in order to be updated and to be effective.
We are in broad discussions with a number of partners about how to move forward on UN reform and Ambassador Shirin Tahir-Kheli, who is my assistant or my advisor for UN reform, will be going to a number of places, including to India, to continue those discussions.
QUESTION: Secretary Rice, the German Foreign Minister said today that the European Union will not proceed with plans to lift its arms embargo against China unless it sees concrete steps from Beijing on Taiwan and human rights. What is your reaction to that?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I can't help but think that it is a positive statement because, as you know, we have been very concerned about the lifting of an embargo that would send the wrong message on human rights, given that it was imposed in response to the Tiananmen Square situation, but also that would send the wrong message and possibly create a reality in which technologies are available to a military -- increased military modernization in China that could, indeed, threaten U.S. security interest in Asia, not to mention the security interest of other allies in the region.
We have had broad discussions with the Europeans on this. We have been pleased at the openness of the Europeans in discussing this. But when it comes right down to it, as I said when I was in Asia, the Pacific is a region that particularly the United States has borne the greatest responsibility for the defense of that region. Yes, the concerns over Taiwan are there and the anti-secession law did nothing to reduce tensions in the Taiwan Strait; in fact, it enhanced - it increased tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
So this is perhaps recognition of that, those facts, and it will be the European Union's decision but we are quite clear that we think the lifting of the embargo would be a mistake.
QUESTION: You had no difficulty in Japan to say that Japan should be a member of the Security Council. Can you equally strongly say that India ought to be a member of Security Council?
Secondly, when you were in India you mentioned the problems we have -- it so happens that oil and gas in countries that are either not democratic or because the United States has got problems. What do you think is going to happen to the vast investment India has made in Iran? Does it create problems for you and what can be done about it?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, on the second issue, one reason that we have an energy dialogue is that we recognize that there are a number of countries -- by the way, the United States among them -- that have growing needs for energy and for reliable sources and supplies of energy to meet the demands of growing economies. And we have to look at the broad range of possibilities for meeting those energy demands.
We have made clear our concerns about the Iranian development. We have made clear that at a time when Iran has clearly not yet made a strategic choice to demonstrate to the world that it is prepared to live up to its international obligations, that we would hope that this would be taken into account. But these are the kinds of discussions that we continue to have.
And we -- on the Security Council reform, we have to do this in the broader context of UN reform. Yes, we have supported Japan for some very particular reasons having, for instance, to do with the fact that Japan really is the second largest contributor to the United Nations in terms of support for the United Nations. It is really not very far behind the United States in providing that support and that needs to be recognized.
But we are going to have now -- we have said even to the Japanese that that, too, has to be on the context of broader UN reform. So we are going to continue our discussions with our friends. We will send Ambassador Tahir-Kheli to India to have these discussions and to other places. It is my hope that we can do this in a way that builds consensus in the international community about UN reforms ought to proceed because what we do not need is acrimony as we try to move forward to reform this extremely important organization so that it can be relevant for the 21st century.
QUESTION: What is your response our request to Dr. Rice's statement on the Security Council?
MINISTER SINGH: Well, we have made our views on India's candidature and credentials for being a permanent member of the Security Council. We are working together with Brazil, Germany and Japan and with also very many other countries. We have sent some special envoys to various parts of the world to promote our cause. Our credentials are impeccable. We are a founding member of the United Nations by the virtue of having been a member of the League of Nations, even though we were a British colony. Our peacekeeping record in the UN, our role in decolonization, our role in the dismantling of Apartheid in South Africa, our efforts at disarmament, nuclear and conventional. Take any aspect of UN life, India has played a leading role, and by any criteria that you apply India qualifies for a seat in the expanded Council as permanent member. And it is quite obvious that the structure created in 1945 doesn't represent what's happening in 2005. It's as simple as that.
SECRETARY RICE: And let me just add that --QUESTION: (Off mike.)SECRETARY RICE: One second. Let me just add that I would agree completely that we are going to need to take a look at the structures because they are from 1945, and not just the Security Council but all of the structures of the United Nations need revitalizing and reform. But India is a growing influence in international politics and in international organizations more broadly. That's going to have to be accommodated.
Yes. Thank you. Thank you very much.
QUESTION: One last question. Why aren't you going to the ball game tonight? I thought you were a fan.SECRETARY RICE: I am. I plan fully to watch it on television, along with the rest of you. But I have very few evenings at home. I decided to take one of them.
(Laughter.)QUESTION: (Off mike) on Kashmir. But, and we said that the peace process is (inaudible) irreversible but he's still looking for out-of-box solutions. What would you say to that?
MINISTER SINGH: Well, I am rushing back to receive President Musharraf in Delhi and we'll continue with the very friendly discussions we had with him in Islamabad some days ago. And, Madame, you may miss this afternoon's game; I'm not going to miss a cricket match on the 17th.
U.S. India building up their relationship By Anwar IqbalUPI South Asian Affairs Analyst
Washington, DC, Apr. 13 (UPI)
Washington, DC, Apr. 13 (UPI) -- U.S. President George W. Bush will meet Indian Minister for External Affairs Natwar Singh Thursday morning, diplomatic sources told United Press International.
The president usually does not meet foreign ministers, but the White House arranged the meeting to convey the importance Washington places on its relationship with New Delhi, the sources said.
On March 25, while announcing the sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan, U.S. officials also offered to help India become a major world power. The offer included U.S. weapons, space cooperation and cooperation in civil nuclear technology, as well as offering help to accelerate India's economic progress.
Singh, who arrived in Washington Tuesday, is also scheduled to meet Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior U.S. officials before leaving for home Thursday evening.
Briefing journalists on the visit, Indian diplomats said that Singh is expected to urge the Americans to concretize their plans for a long-term engagement with India and make some forward movement toward implementing their pledge to make India a major world power.
A State Department official, when asked what weapons the United States is offering to India, said: "We are going to allow American companies to market F-16 and F-18 aircraft to India."
"The Indians have said they want 126 planes, and they're talking to the Russians and the Swedes about it. I expect that they'll talk to us, too," said the official who did not want to be identified. But he also said that it's "way too early for a deal to be discussed."
Both U.S. and Indian officials have indicated that they expect some concrete progress in Indo-U.S. cooperation in space and nuclear technologies during Singh's visit. They said that while the Americans were willing to sell military aircraft to India, New Delhi first has to decide which planes suit its needs before buying them.
They pointed out that India has traditionally purchased planes from Russian and European nations, and the American weapon system is comparatively new to them.
The Indians also see other risks in buying weapons from the United States. They fear that Russia, India's main supplier, may lift the ban on selling weapons to Pakistan if New Delhi buys weapons from Washington. Moscow has persistently said "no" to Islamabad's request for arms in the past.
Policymakers in Washington have their own concerns about India. They seem worried about India's growing relations with Iran and about its efforts to improve relations with China. A long-term deal New Delhi has signed with Tehran for gas, with the possibility of the pipeline through Pakistan, has irritated Washington.
Rice minced no words in conveying America's displeasure over the pipeline deal when she met Indian leaders in New Delhi last month. Also, wary of China's growing influence in Asia, U.S. policymakers want to see India countering Beijing's influence, not supplementing it.
On Tuesday, Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao concluded a four-day official visit to India, raising hopes that growing relations between Asia's two giant neighbors can bring about a major strategic change in the region. Both countries have rapidly growing economies, and during Wen's visit both Indian and Chinese leaders expressed the hope to improve bilateral trade.
"We have produced very rich results through this (India) visit," Wen told reporters in New Delhi at the end a four-nation South Asia trip that included Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. "It is fair to say that this is a historic visit," he added.
On Monday, the two Asian giants also signed an accord that sets out a roadmap for resolving a border dispute that led to a brief but bitter war in 1962.
The Indians, however, say that it's only natural for them to try to improve relations with a major neighboring state like China. They argue that this should impede the efforts to build a stronger and larger relationship with the United States.
Media reports from New Delhi indicate an obvious excitement in the capital over the March 25th U.S. offer to make India a major world power. The Indians point out that the United States is already taking steps to implement the measures it announced on March 25. Recently, a delegation from the U.S. Department of Energy visited New Delhi with plans to help India produce nuclear energy. More visits are in the pipeline.
During the Cold War, India's relations with the United States were tense. India was a strong ally of the former Soviet Union, and when Russia invaded Afghanistan in 1979, India supported the Soviet action.
The United States, on the other hand, had a close relationship with India's regional rival, Pakistan, particularly during the Afghan war, when Pakistan allowed Afghan rebels to use its territory for carrying out attacks on Soviet occupation forces. The United States also used Pakistani territory for supplying weapons to and the training of Afghan rebels.
America's relations with India and Pakistan suffered a major setback when they tested their nuclear weapons in May 1998, but the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the United States brought about a major change in U.S. policies toward South Asia.
Now both India and Pakistan are close U.S. allies, and the United States says it wants to maintain close ties to both nations. -- (UPI State Department correspondent Krishnadev Calamur also contributed to this report.)
Production of BrahMos, the supersonic cruise missile developed by India and Russia, has begun in the country and the Indian Navy has placed orders for it, according to A. Sivathanu Pillai, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, BrahMos Aerospace, New Delhi.
He said the Navy had identified its vessels in which the BrahMos missiles would be fitted. About 20 industries in India and 10 from Russia were taking part in the production of various components for the missile (which would be assembled in India). A consortium between the two countries has been established to produce the missile system, he said. The production included fabrication of launchers, fire-control systems, accurate guidance systems and mobile platform called TATRA from which the missile could be launched.
Many countries were interested in buying the missile. To whom to sell was under the consideration of the Government of India and the Russian Federation. Since BrahMos was the only supersonic cruise missile available in the world it had a strong market, he said.
Dr. Pillai, who spoke on ``Advances in missile technologies'' at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota during the annual convention of the Aeronautical Society of India, later told reporters that development of the Air Force version of the BrahMos had started.
``The design has been finalised. We should start developing some of the sub-systems. Our target is that we should launch [it] from an aircraft in two years. It will be air-to-ground,'' he said.
All the nine flights of the BrahMos from India so far were successful. These nine flights fell under three versions: the missile launched from a ship to destroy another ship; the BrahMos launched from a mobile platform on land towards a target in the sea; and the missile launched from land to destroy a target on land. The land-to-land version of the missile could pick a particular target from a group of targets and home in on it, Dr. Pillai said. This test took place at Pokhran in Rajasthan on December 21, 2004. This was an Army version.
V. Gnanagandhi, Associate Director, Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC), Indian Space Research Organisation, who spoke on ``Cryogenic technology for launch vehicles'', said the LPSC had realised cryogenic engines (to power the second-generation Geo-synchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle) after overcoming many challenges in design, material and testing. The engines had been successfully tested 24 times so far for a cumulative duration of about 6,000 seconds. Five engines had been realised and four tested. A cryogenic engine with a higher thrust of 20 tonnes (using five tonnes of cryogenic fluids — liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen) was under development on a priority basis. The LPSC would like to initiate efforts towards building nuclear thermal rockets (NTR) using hydrogen and a solid nuclear core, Mr. Gnanagandhi said.
M. B. Verma, Director, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA), Bangalore, said the Light Combat Aircraft had high agility and manoeuvrability, multi-mission capability and cockpit-compatible night vision system. It could fly in different types of weather, and during day and night. It would launch precisely-guided weapons. With only ``a shoe-string budget,'' but with meticulous planning and successful implementation, the ADA had developed cutting-edge technologies in aeronautics, he said.
The US has offered to train Indian naval pilots in complex carrier-based operations to ready them for operating from INS Vikramaditya — formerly Admiral Gorshkov — which will reach India by 2007-08.
The offer has come as a surprise as no US hardware is on the Navy’s radar. India has no plans to immediately acquire any US naval system as the country is planning a bouquet of Russian MiG-29Ks and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) on all future floating platforms. In fact, the Air Defence Ship (ADS) being built in Kochi has been designed to operate MiG-29Ks and UK-made Sea Harriers along with the LCAs.
The US offer, sources said, was made during the recent visit of Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash. The Navy, however, has not fully finalised the module and pattern of deployment. Sources said future aviators who will operate on aircraft carriers have been shortlisted. ‘‘We have identified pilots who will fly from Gorshkov. Another generation will inherit this training by the time the ADS is ready by 2012. A training module in Russia will begin later this year or in early 2006,’’ sources said.
The pilots will be first trained from a shore-based Russian facility complete with advanced feature called ‘sea jump’. This mount, that gives any modern carrier its silhouette signature, adds to the thrust when an aircraft scrambles off. ‘‘The facility has landing strip fitted with arrestor wires. It will give our pilots real-time experience in meeting challenges posed by carrier-based operations,’’ the sources added.
The training will then shift to INS Vikramaditya by the time its refitting is done.
Confirming the US offer, Admiral Arun Prakash said the Navy was mulling over it. ‘‘We’re looking into it. But there is no talk about any aircraft procurement from US,’’ he said.
The naval base at Goa will be expanded to make room for the Navy’s largest fleet of MiG-29Ks that the force plans to acquire soon.
Vice-Admiral Madanjit Singh said the Navy will first buy 40 of these aircraft at a cost of $32 million. The contract details will be worked out once the Russian-made aircraft carriers arrive in the country.
Altogether three aircraft carriers will be inducted by the Navy. The delivery of the first one is scheduled for 2007 and the other in 2008, the latter being a major modified carrier. The third one will be indigenously built and be available in the next 7-8 years.
Singh, who was at the INS Hansa base in Vasco to attend the Tropex 2005 — a major exercise being conducted by the Western Naval Command — also said that the Karwar base would be inaugurated on May 9.
Joint Exercises by Indian Army, Navy and Air Force
The Indian Navy is holding joint exercise along with Indian Army and Air force off the Goa coast "to reaffirm preparedness in defending strategically important coastal installations, ports and vital national assets along the west coast."
The first phase of this exercise concluded on April 6 and the entire exercise would conclude at the end of this month, stated chief of western naval command Vice Admiral Madanjeet Singh.
The exercise is scheduled to be conducted at the western seaboard throught the month of April in three phases, the work-up phase, the weapon phase and the tactical phase, he stated.
The full complement of western and eastern fleets, some units of Indian Army and Indian Air Force are taking part in the exercise. The frontline warship of the Indian Navy, including the aircraft carrier, INS Viraat are participating in the multi-faceted exercise.
Vice Admiral Singh stated that several types of military operations are being conducted during the course of exercise. Long range deployment of ships and aircraft, anti submarine operations, strikes by aircraft on targets at sea, amphibious landings, submarine operations, para dropping of special forces, missile and weapon firing are some of the major operations in the exercise.
The western and eastern fleets of the Indian Navy have joined forces with the aim to achieve integration in operations during weapons phase and before moving on to the tactical phase of the exercise, stated Vice Admiral Singh.
The Indian air force base on the island of Car Nicobar has been fully restored after suffering heavy damage in last December's tsunami, officials say. A spokesman said the air force and navy is conducting an exercise to show the base is again ready for use.
Jaguar and SU-30 fighter jets took off from the rebuilt base to the cheers of Indian sailors and airmen, he said.
Car Nicobar, though ravaged, proved its worth as a base during the relief operation after the tsunami.
Indian air-force transport planes and helicopters pounded the runway day and night with tonnes of supplies, and then flew sorties over remote islands to drop them, until the harbours were repaired to allow ships to return.
More than 140 air force personnel and their family members were killed in the tsunami and the entire living quarters were washed away.
Cdr Salil Mehta, a spokesman of the Andaman and Nicobar Command, said the joint exercise by the air force and the navy "signalled the complete restoration" of the base.
Gp Capt VV Bandopadhyay, who was commander of the base when the disaster struck on 26 December, said the exercise would restore morale.
"We were all so depressed after the tsunami," he said.
Capt Bandopadhyay was one of the few air force officials who survived the waves.
He is now serving at the Indian military's eastern headquarters at Calcutta's Fort William, leading an air force liaison cell.
Indian air chief SK Tyagi ordered all those who were present at the Car Nicobar airbase on the day of the tsunami to be relocated so that they could get over their trauma.
Cdr Mehta said the military exercise showed India was again ready to defend its Indian Ocean frontline.
Transport and fighter jets had been sent to the base, he said, and the exercise had included an in-flight refuelling.
"This marks the restoration of long-haul operations at the Car Nicobar base," he said.
Mr Tyagi is expected to arrive at the base on 14 April to declare it combat fit.
New Delhi will try to conclude negotiations for the Indian Air Force’s purchase of 12 Mirage 2000-5 fighter aircraft from Qatar during the April 14-15 visit here by Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, emir of Qatar.
The Cabinet Committee on Security gave clearance to the Defence Ministry March 29 to begin price negotiations with Qatar, a move prompted by the U.S. government’s decision to sell F-16s to India’s nuclear rival, Pakistan.
Indian Air Force (IAF) sources said the second-hand jets would cost around $30 million apiece. A new Mirage 2000-5 sells for about $90 million. The IAF has told the Indian government that the Qatar Mirages still have about 75 percent of their service life left.
The deal is expected to be inked in the next three to four months, said one Defence Ministry official, adding that some final details will be settled during the emir’s visit. The MoD official would not comment further on the pending sale. Ministry sources said price still must be finalized during the visit, and that the ministry is prepared to pay up to $38 million per plane.
A team of representatives from Mirage-maker Dassault Aviation, Saint Cloud, France, and the IAF has evaluated the Qatari Mirage 2000-5s, the sources said. Of the 12 aircraft, nine are single-seat Mirage 2000-5EDAs and three are two-seat Mirage 2000-5DDAs.
The IAF plans to increase its nuclear delivery system with the acquisition of these planes. The service’s Su-30MKI, Jaguar, MiG-27 and Mirage-2000H jets also can carry nuclear weapons. The Mirage 2000-5 could carry a nuclear warhead deep inside China with the help of an Il-78 aerial tanker the Air Force purchased from Uzbekistan.
An additional $200 million, however, will be needed by the service to install new-generation avionics and weapons, and to establish an infrastructure for their operation, the IAF sources said.
Qatar bought the 12 Mirage 2000-5s from Dassault in 1997, and is selling the planes as part of its overall move toward American weaponry, equipment and aircraft.
India has around 46 Mirage 2000-H aircraft and is awaiting delivery of another 10 ordered in 2001. The Mirage 2000-Hs are being maintained by Hindustan Aeronautics, Bangalore, and the IAF sources said the service is accustomed to flying the Mirage.
Bhim Singh, a retired Air Force wing commander, said the “French are a much easier arms supplier to deal with, though more pricey than the Russians, and they are more reliable in terms of offering support for spare parts and similar issues,” compared with Russia and the United States.
The first section of what will be the Indian Navy’s largest naval base is on track to be completed by the end of 2006.
When fully operational by 2010, the base here in southern India will be home to all of the Navy’s nuclear weapons and the ships, planes and missiles that carry them. The base will host 45 warships, submarines and an aircraft carrier. Aircraft at its air station will include Sea Harriers, MiG-29 fighters, Dornier-228 light transport aircraft, Advanced Light Helicopters and Sea King, Kamov-28 and Kamov-31 helicopters.
Conceived in the early 1980s and slated for completion a decade ago, the base was delayed due to a lack of funding and other resources. The cornerstone for the project was laid in 1986. Officials would not disclose the costs associated with building the base.
Rear Adm. Kattoju Mohanrao, director-general of the Karwar naval base project, said the base will be a separate Navy command.
Built on 11,200 acres of natural harbor, Karwar is on India’s Arabian Sea coast and is 900 nautical miles from Pakistan’s Karachi naval base and 1,500 nautical miles from its new naval base being built at Gwadar.
The first area of the base to be completed will house 11 warships. The port will have lift-and-transfer systems large enough to move any Indian naval vessel onto a land berth for repairs.
An Indian Navy official here said the hilly terrain makes Karwar less vulnerable to missile attacks from Pakistan, and its nearby forest-covered island provides good cover from satellite surveillance.
Another Navy source here said there are plans to install anti-ballistic missile systems here, but would not give details. India has been negotiating to buy U.S. Patriot-2 anti-missile systems and Israeli Arrow-2 systems. India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is developing long-range air defenses based on an advanced Israeli radar, an agency source said. The Indian Navy official would not give details about base logistics or its planned arsenal.
He said the base will play a role in the service’s strategy of “sea denial” to an adversary. In its 1971 war with Pakistan, India used the strategy to bottle up Islamabad’s fleet in Karachi port with missile boat attacks, and to prevent the seaborne escape of Pakistan’s army from Bangladeshi ports.
Nitin Mehta, a New Delhi-based defense analyst, said the Navy would have to install an advanced air-defense system to protect the advanced warships, aircraft carriers and nuclear arsenal there.
In the absence of such a system, the Karwar naval base would not live up to its basic concept, Mehta said, adding that Pakistan has now become nuclear capable, which it was not in 1980 when the port was conceived.
India on Monday began an eight-year project to build an aircraft carrier in its most ambitious military programme to date, officials said. Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched the construction of the 37,500-tonne carrier at the Cochin Shipyard in Kerala, a naval spokesman said.
The carrier will carry 30 British- and Russian-made jet fighters as well as locally-designed light combat aircraft which took India more than 22 years to develop.
Federal Shipping Minister T R Balu said the ship-building yard would complete the project and hand over the carrier to the 137-ship Indian navy by 2012.
"The project is strategically important for our defence and so we will complete it within the target period," Balu said.
The 252 metre-long (831 feet) carrier, which will be powered by four gas turbines and have an range of 7,500 nautical miles, will have a top speed of 28 knots and will carry 160 officers and 1,400 sailors.
It will have two 200 metre-long runways and a landing deck for helicopters.
Several other countries, including China, the United States, France, Russia, Britain, Spain and Italy, have aircraft carriers.
The carrier was designed by the Indian navy but Italian firm Fincantieri will help Cochin Shipyard integrate the main propulsion system and perform other specialised tasks.
The Indian Navy had two aircraft carriers but only the INS Viraat is in operation as the INS Vikrant was decommissioned in January 1997.
Last year India signed a 1.5 billion dollar deal with Russia for a 40,000 tonne aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, which is slated to join the Indian navy in 2008 after a refit.
Besides the aircraft carrier, India is building 19 other ships, including frigates and corvettes. Last month it unveiled plans to buy patrol boats.
The Indian Army will soon acquire a wide range of weapon systems, including howitzers and multi-rocket firing systems, while upgrading existing systems to qualitatively enhance its war-fighting skills, Army Chief Gen J J Singh said on Thursday.
"We are looking at further improving and enhancing our war-fighting skills and will acquire some weapon systems, particularly those serving as 'force-multipliers," he told journalists on the penultimate day of the Army Commanders' Conference here.
The Army Chief noted that while a highly motivated and properly trained soldier was imperative, he should also be given the requisite wherewithal in terms of modern weapons and syestems to fulfil his mission.
Asked about the specific weapons the force required, he said among others, it was looking for lighter small arms for the troops, with night vision capabilities, able to successfully engage and destroy the enemy.
"We also intend acquiring new medium artillery guns of 155mm calibre -- a mix of towed and self-propelled variants. Meanwhile, the work of upgrading our 130mm howitzers to 155mm is continuing," Gen Singh said, adding an upgrade of existing weapon platforms will also be done.
Also likely to figure among the acquisitions is the potent Russian-origin 'Smerch' multi-rocket launching system (MRLS) whose deal has been long-delayed, a well-placed Army source said.
Indian Air Forces frontline Sukhoi, Mirage 2000 and upgraded Mig Bisons would cross swords with the United States Air Force F-16 fighting falcons in the second series of joint fighter exercises in November this year.
The pilots of the two air forces would match their skills in close range as well as beyond visual range combats over Kalikunda airbase in West Bengal. In their first test of wits, the Indian pilots had got the better of their American counterparts in Gwalior last year.
But the contest that time had been between the US F-15's and the Indian SU-30's and Bisons. And the US air force this time are bringing in their Fighting Falcons that too of Batch 50-52's, the latest upgrades series.
According to top IAF officials, 8 to 12 American F-16's would be taking part in the exercise 'Cope Thunder Three' and India, besides the Su-30MKI and SU-30K, would field the Mig-27s, Mirage 2000 and Mig Bisons.
The US officials have been very keen to have a closer look at India's just acquired SU-30MKI. In the past, New Delhi has spurned invitations for the frontline fighters to visit America for taking part in multi-nation air exercises.
Israel's largest defense firm has been awarded a project to upgrade anti-aircraft systems for India.
Israel Aircraft Industries has won a $104 million contract to modernize 48 Russian-made Indian Army Shilka ZSU-23 air defense systems. IAI planned to implement the contract with India's Bharat Electronics Ltd., or BEL.
The award ended a competition in which BEL defeated Russia's state-owned arms agency Rosoboronexport in 2003. BEL was deemed as prime contractor of the upgrade.
IAI and BEL could also have the inside track on future projects. India has an additional 600 ZSU systems and plans to issue another upgrade order in 2005.
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Cooperative Cope Thunder
Nikhil and Jehangir wrote an exhaustive article about the Cooperative Cope Thunder joint event. Their article was publihed in Vayu magazine. Click on the link below to read the in-depth article with amazing pictures courtesy of mark Farmer at topcover.com
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