Coming Soon
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 should endorse India for UNSC seat: Blackwill
In keeping with the rapid acceleration of US-India ties, former US Ambassador to India Robert Blackwill has made out a strong case for Washington endorsing New Delhi for a permanent seat in the UN Security Council.

"We should announce that in the framework of basic reform of the United Nations, the United States will support India as a permanent member of the Security Council," he says.

Writing in 'The National Interest', a leading quarterly, Blackwill also wants the US to promote India's early induction into the exclusive G-8 group. "India's economic punch, its increasing geopolitical reach and its vibrant democratic institutions all demand that it be at the head table."

In his extensive article, the former Bush aide has also counselled Pakistan to accept the Line of Control as the border in order to pave the way for a speedy resolution of the Kashmir issue.

"Unless the Pakistani government and the army change for good their objective and accept the current division of territory, the Kashmir dispute will go on for a very long time," he noted.

Hailing Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's recent initiatives that have culminated in the US's willingness to assist India in civil nuclear power generation, Blackwill said: "This is a major breakthrough because the non-proliferation fraternity had been dead-set against this throughout the first term."

Going a step further, he expressed the view that the US should now integrate India into the evolving global non-proliferation regime as a friendly nuclear weapons state.

"We should end constraints on assistance to and cooperation with India's civil nuclear industry and high-tech trade, changing laws and policy when necessary. We should sell civil nuclear reactors to India...We should also enter into a vigorous, long-term program of space cooperation with India," he said.

He also welcomed the US's inclination to sell F-16 and F-18 fighter aircraft to India as well as to consider co-production and licensing agreements for those aircraft and other advanced US weapons systems.

On Kashmir, Blackwill faulted Islamabad's approach, given the fact that New Delhi will not give up any territory that it now controls as also its position on the return of Pakistani-occupied Kashmir to India.

"But the Indian elite would likely settle for the permanent international border being drawn along the current line of control," he said, urging Pakistan to accept this reality.

Having been thwarted in its bid to take Kashmir by military force, Pakistan has over the past decade and a half "used terror as an instrument of attempted change" but that too has not succeeded.

Blackwill expressed the view that at a time when it should develop a new strategy or change objectives, Pakistan has still not made the strategic shift away from its long-time policy of cross-border terrorism. According to him, the terrorist infrastructure inside Pakistan is still in place.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:31 AM


Indian Defense Market: Obstacles to Modernization
India budgeted US$17 billion in 2004/05 for military spending, in addition to a carry over of $7 billion from the previous budget. Nevertheless, India Monitor reports that the modernization of India's armed forces is still a way off as it struggles to shake off "bureaucratic bungling, political wrangling and the more than a sniff of scandal that has characterized arms deals in the past."

India's biggest defense-related issue, however, may be more basic: decision paralysis. The slowness of decisions and approvals can be a major issue for companies wishing to penetrate the Indian defense market.

In 1990, for instance, the Indian army asked the government to have their old 130mm artillery guns up-gunned to 155mm One year later New Delhi gave its clearance, and Soltam of Israel was picked from among five bidders. Soltam carried out trials in 1993, but the Defense Ministry took another five years to approve the bid and fulfill the army's requirement.

These delays have also jeopardized a number of vital purchases, such as the Israel Aircraft Industries Heron unmanned aerial vehicle, the Russian Smerch multiple-launch rocket system and the Bhim self-propelled howitzer. Worse still, over the past five years, inability to make timely decisions has forced India's Ministry of Defense to return close to $7.3 billion earmarked for new equipment and modernization.

In 2004, India's parliamentary defense committee declared that the newly created Defense Procurement Board had "miserably failed" to expedite the procurement process, calling on the Ministry of Defense to establish a thorough study to "identify the bottlenecks and take remedial measures to streamline the system".

The rest of the India Monitor article assesses the obstacles facing new Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, the effects of political considerations and broader international sourcing on procurement decisions, and present and future trends.

With American corporations like Lockheed Martin targeting India as a market for its products, the streamlining and modernization of India's procurement system is likely to have a more direct impact on the North American industry.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:30 AM


Israeli MoD Leases Indian Dhruv
Israeli military officers will begin flying in June on the Indian-made Dhruv helicopter under a special leasing arrangement that expands ongoing cooperation between government-owned Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) and Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL).

The leasing arrangement, which currently involves only one indigenous Indian aircraft, obliges IAI to provide as many as 600 flight hours per year for the transport of Israel Defense Force officers and staff. Additional aircraft could be included in follow-on amendments to the leasing deal, depending on the level of satisfaction within the Israeli military, according to Ministry of Defense (MoD) and IAI officials here.

Yair Sagie, director of helicopter business development at IAI’s Lahav Division, said the specially equipped Dhruv arrived in Israel a few weeks ago, has undergone testing with Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority and will be ready to fly in early June. Full certification of the Indian helicopter in Israel is expected shortly, Sagie said May 23.

“This is a power-by-the-hour outsourcing contract. We leased the aircraft from HAL, and MoD is leasing it from us,” Sagie said.

IAI’s Lahav Division and HAL began a strategic partnership two years ago to provide core avionics for Dhruv helicopters destined for the Indian armed services. Additionally, the two firms are working to market the helicopter worldwide.

Launch of Dhruv helicopter operations in Israel will be inaugurated May 25 in ceremonies at IAI headquarters here, attended by industry executives from both countries, including HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja, Shri Shekhar Dutt, India’s secretary for defense production, and Amos Yaron, director-general of Israel’s MoD.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:29 AM


Kalam discusses Sukhoi collaboration in Russia
President APJ Abdul Kalam on Monday discussed with Russian officials the possibility of collaboration in the production of fifth generation Sukhoi fighter aircraft and in the design and manufacture of a civilian aircraft.

Kalam discussed the matter with officials at the Sukhoi Design Bureau when he visited the facility on the outskirts of the city.

The model of collaboration, according to officials, would be the same as the one followed in the joint venture BrahMos missile project between India and Russia.

"Both sides will bring in their core competencies, technology and, of course, money," a senior Indian official said.

The official said that after the discussions at the Sukhoi Design Bureau, the matter is expected to figure during Kalam's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.

Kalam is in Russia as part of a fortnight-long, four-nation European tour.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) already boasts of the Russian built Sukhoi-30 and the indigenously built Sukhoi-30MKI.

The Sukhoi-30MKI is being produced under a Rs 300 billion programme for licensed manufacture, with the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) executing a major part, valued at Rs 220 billion.

Under the project, HAL's Nashik Division will produce 140 Sukhoi-30 aircraft over 13 years (until 2018) with the indigenous content increasing progressively in phases.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:28 AM


India to inaugurate largest naval base on Suez
India will commission INS Kadamba in Karwar on the western coastline of the peninsular India by the end of May.

Project Seabird will be inaugurated soon by the Indian Navy as it tries to assume a more expansive responsibility in the international affairs.

Once commissioned, Project Seabird will be the first operational base with a port controlled exclusively by the navy, allowing it to position and maneuver its operational fleet without bothering about the movement of merchant vessels.

Indian Navy's other two bases, Mumbai in western coast, and Vizag port in the eastern coast are situated within the enclaves within commercial ports.

Naval bases situated within commercial zones often pose trouble for the maritime might of India.

INS Kadamba will remedy the problem. A report in 'Frontline' says, the base will be the biggest naval base on this side of the Suez and it will provide the Indian fleet with the much needed defense at sea.

INS Kadamba is spread over 11,200 acres (4,480 hectares), and the base will encompass a 26-km stretch along the high water line of the seafront from Karwar Head in the north through the Baitkol, Kamath, Binaga, Kwada, and Belekeri Bays.

Karwar with its bays and islands has always been thought of as an ideal site for locating a naval base.

The sea at the naval base is deep less than half a mile from the coast and this makes berthing and navigation easy. This feature of the sea floor also makes the need of dredging minimal.

Given the unique tidal conditions, there is little scope for siltation. The base gets natural protection from wave action because of the presence of Binaga Bay.

INS Kadamba is the successful fruition of an idea that was conceived in the 1970s. India aimed to move the navy from its dependence on the Mumbai base where need for silting was posing difficulty before the Indian Navy.

The foundation for the project was laid by former Indian prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in October 1986. It was given up subsequently because of lack of funds. In 1990 it was resurrected.

The report said, INS Kadamba will need a budgetary allocation of Rs 400 crores every year over the next decade if it is to be propelled toward its full potential.

Once commissioned, the new naval base will host an array of vehicles and armaments of the Indian Navy like the navy's large ship-based helicopter units and Dorniers, used for fleet requirements.

The operating ships of the Indian Navy will go to INS Kadamba and the ships undergoing repairs and refit and maintenance will go to Mumbai.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:27 AM


India may hold another naval exercise with China
The Indian Navy has offered to participate in another bilateral exercise with China, on the lines of the one in November 2003.

Expressing hope that strengthening of the political dialogue between India and China would lead to closer relations between the two Armed Forces, Chiefs of Staff Committee Chairman Admiral Arun Prakash told the visiting PLA Chief of the General Staff General Liang Guanglie that the two forces could have greater interaction through training courses, exercises and adventure activities.

The Chinese general, who arrived in New Delhi Monday evening, had called on Admiral Prakash at Naval Headquarters today. Gen Liang said that the Chinese Armed Forces attached great importance to good relations between the two countries.

Fully supporting the proposal for greater exchange of visits, joint exercises and other interactions between personnel of both armed forces, he also extended an invitation to the Navy Chief to visit China at an early date, during which a road map for bilateral relations could be drawn up.

Admiral Prakash responded by extending an invitation to the Chief of the PLA Navy, Admiral Zhang Dingfa to visit India.

Earlier, Gen Liang Guanglie also held discussions with Army Chief Gen J J Singh, and IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal SP Tyagi on initiating the process of mutual consultations envisaged in a protocol signed during Chinese premier Wen Jiabao's visit to India last month, defence sources here said.

The Chinese Army chief would meet Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee tomorrow before beginning a tour of prominent Indian defence installations, including the HQs of the Army's Southern Command and the National Defence Academy at Pune, the Western Naval Command at Mumbai and the IAF transport base and Paratrooper Training School at Agra.

Gen Liang's visit -- the first by a high-ranking Chinese military officer in seven years -- follows the visit last December of erstwhile Army Chief Gen N C Vij to China.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:26 AM


Indian President Abdul Kalam has arrived in Russia and visited the Sukhoi aircraft corporation in the forerun to India's assembly of 140 Su-30-MKI fighters under a Russian license, Izvestia, a daily, reported.

Kalam and Sukhoi CEO Mikhail Pogosyan discussed New Delhi's participation in developing the fifth generation fighter and the Russian Regional Jet (RRJ) medium-range airliner. India is ready to channel $100 million into the RRJ program.

In 2004, Sukhoi won a state tender for developing the fighter, which is to phase out current Sukhoi and Mikoyan-Gurevich warplanes. Flight tests are set to begin in 2007.

Sukhoi has been cooperating with France since 2002. New Delhi previously received Su-30-MKI fighters with French-Israeli avionics. Russia invited India and France to participate, but Paris said it has no intention of financing the Russian project, and that it will develop the Raphael fighter instead. Russia faces similar problems with India. New Delhi has refused to sign an intellectual-property agreement with Moscow. This document entitles Russia to its share of proceeds during the sale of Russian-Indian hardware on third markets.

According to Kalam, an agreement could be drafted in a few weeks. A Russian-Indian expert group is now working on the document. But New Delhi still does not know which plane it really needs.

It is unclear whether Kalam, who helped develop Indian nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, has solved this problem. According to official reports, the concerned parties do not solve various problems at this level.

Sukhoi and the Irkut corporation delivered 32 Su-30-MKI fighters to India this year, helping New Delhi master their license production. This is the largest contract in the history of Russian-Indian cooperation at more than $3 billion.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:25 AM


We'll build more weapons like BrahMos, says Kalam
India and Russia would jointly build new weapon systems using the experience gained in designing the BrahMos anti-ship cruise missile, President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam said here on Tuesday.

"BrahMos has established a new way of country-to-country cooperation that we're going to use in future in designing new weapon systems," he said. "System design, system development, system production and system marketing have all been integrated in this great programme, which has come through successfully."

Mr. Kalam made these comments after visiting NPO Mashinostoyeniye, a leading Russian designer of missiles and space systems.

In 1998, the Defence Research and Development Organisation and NPO Mashinostroyeniye had set up a joint venture to develop a supersonic anti-ship cruise missile, christened BrahMos.

"It is a unique world-class missile; there are no other such missiles anywhere," he said. "There is a good market for BrahMos and our two countries are going to aggressively market it."

This was Mr. Kalam's fourth visit to NPO Mashinostroyeniye since 1991. He negotiated and signed agreements to jointly develop the BrahMos missile, which is truly his brainchild. "NPO Mashinostroyeniye people are all my friends and our friendship is based on rocket technologies," he said.

"They have done a great job and I have come to congratulate the NPO team and the Indian team on creating this unique missile."


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:25 AM


Rising to India's defense
No job in Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's cabinet is easy, but perhaps the one with the most pressure of money and power is that of the defense minister. India budgeted US$17 billion in 2004/05 for military spending (in addition to a carry over of $7 billion from the previous budget) as it prepares for its perceived role as a major power in Asia.

The modernization of India's armed forces is still a way off, however, as it struggles to shake off bureaucratic bungling, political wrangling and the more than a sniff of scandal that has characterized arms deals in the past. The task that confronted veteran politician and a minister of proven timber, Pranab Mukherjee, was all that and more when he took over in May last year. The only thing going in his favor was the roadwork done by his predecessor, George Fernandes. Despite all the allegations now being thrown at him, Fernandes did very well to merge the Defense Ministry bureaucracy with the armed services. In fact, Fernandes was perhaps the most successful of all the ministers that served in the Atal Bihari Vajpayee cabinet.

Notwithstanding the success enjoyed by Fernandes, some basic things remained unchanged; it is now up to Mukherjee to remove those heavy odds and advance India's military. The most difficult task Mukherjee faced on taking over the Defense portfolio was that of moving the bureaucracy. Shaken by the scandals associated with the purchase of howitzers from Bofors, and buying submarine spare parts, in the 1980s, Defense Ministry officials are still running scared, to the point of becoming virtually dysfunctional. Constantly watching their backs, they are reluctant to move decisively with any purchase. There have been much more recent scandals, too, of bribery related to defense purchases that have only added to the inertia.

This paralysis is fed by continuing scandal-mongering in the media and among politicians, the latest being the alleged payoff in a deal for the purchase of rifles from South African firm Denel during Fernandes' tenure.

After Bofors was blacklisted and a political and bureaucratic witch-hunt began, the army realized that the original idea to manufacture Bofors guns in India had also been dismissed. It is not clear what lessons the army drew from the experience, but the Defense Ministry bureaucracy concluded that extreme caution was needed. In 1990, the Indian army asked the government to have their old 130mm guns up-gunned to 155mm One year later, New Delhi gave its clearance, and Soltam of Israel was picked from among five bidders. Soltam carried out trials in 1993, but the paralyzed Defense Ministry took another five years to approve the bid and fulfill the army's requirement.

This level of paralysis has hurt the Indian military badly. It was noticed by everyone, but the fear of becoming politically tainted by big-money defense purchases was overwhelming for political minnows. Writing for Jane's Defense Weekly, defense correspondent Rahul Bedi pointed out last October that India's parliamentary defense committee, declaring that the newly created Defense Procurement Board had "miserably failed" to expedite the procurement process, called on the Ministry of Defense to establish a thorough study to "identify the bottlenecks and take remedial measures to streamline the system".

Little has been done so far. "There seems to be no move to expedite systems for acquiring military equipment, despite Mukherjee's declared commitment to the swift modernization of the armed forces," a senior Indian defense source told Bedi. What is extraordinary is that over the past five years, India's Ministry of Defense has returned to federal coffers close to $7.3 billion earmarked for new equipment and modernization due to the inability to take timely decisions. Needless to say, the paralysis has affected India's military preparedness and, not surprisingly, earned the wrath of the armed services chiefs charged with assuring the nation's security.

Such delays have jeopardized a number of vital purchases, such as the Israel Aircraft Industries Heron unmanned aerial vehicle, the Russian Smerch multiple-launch rocket system and the Bhim self-propelled howitzer, in which the Denel T6 turret has been mated with the chassis of the locally designed Arjun main battle tank.

What concerns the Indian army brass is that such witch-hunts can cause permanent damage across the board, involving the entire Ministry of Defense and the armed forces. This is of great concern at a time when major military powers in the world have undertaken the arduous task of modernizing their armed services.

Mukherjee's inability so far to clean up the Augean stable that has clogged the Defense Ministry seems to have affected his professional relations with the armed services chiefs. There is no doubt that the utter mishandling of the Nepal situation since February 1, when King Gyanendra proclaimed a state of emergency and dismantled Nepal's nominal democratic structure, made the Indian army chief unhappy. Many believe that the defense minister should have put his foot down when Delhi adopted counterproductive policies (such as stopping arms supplies to the Royal Nepalese Army) , instead of allowing things to drift.

Only recently, Singh agreed in principle to resume military aid to Nepal, on King Gyanendra's assurance that it would be employed exclusively against Maoist insurgents. What role the defense minister played in making the prime minister change his stance is not known.

In addition to undertaking the daunting task of marrying a paralyzed Defense Ministry bureaucracy with the required defense preparedness of the nation, Mukherjee also is obliged to deliver politically on behalf of the Congress Party, which forms the core of the ruling coalition government. Reports indicate that the defense minister is under pressure from the Congress leadership to implicate Fernandes in corruption related to defense deals. Fernandes, who has been particularly critical of Nehru-Gandhi family members [1] over the past three decades, is deeply disliked by many in the Congress Party, who see the defense purchase-related controversies as soft targets to hurt Fernandes. This has created additional pressure on Mukherjee.

Despite the tug and pull from various directions, and the utter collapse of the Defense Ministry minions, Mukherjee has made some clear decisions in widening India's procurement market. Nevertheless, there is no question that over the past two years the Cabinet Committee on Security, headed by Singh, has selected military equipment based predominantly on political considerations. "Politics and not operational requirements dictate equipment preferences, despite high-powered procurement committees," a senior officer told Bedi. But, he noted, as the armed forces seek to diversify imports to replace and upgrade their predominantly Soviet and Russian weapons systems, the progress of the new acquisition projects has slowed.

While that may be true, it is also true that Mukherjee is looking at Russian, American, Israeli and European suppliers with an open eye, and has already begun to diversity the country's procurement sources. For instance, it is on Mukherjee's watch that India's reluctance to buy US arms and systems has declined significantly. Although the system has not yet been fully evaluated for purchase, it was with Mukherjee's approval that US arms major Raytheon proposed the sale of a special electronic warfare system that can jam enemy radar and communications in a radius of 1,200 kilometers.

In another pending deal, New Delhi has conveyed to Washington that India is not particularly impressed with the PAC-3 missile unit offered with the two-tier US anti-missile defense system, on the grounds that it is too slow for the very short reaction period required in the sub-continent, especially with regard to neighboring Pakistan. Reports are that the Indian defense minister will be taken by Pentagon higher-ups to the US Pacific Command in Hawaii for a live demonstration of advanced anti-missile defense systems.

There is also a definite shift in India's policy on arms purchases from Russia. Unlike in the past, these purchases are no longer automatic. Reports indicate that the Indian political establishment and the Indian army have differences on the 155mm field gun deal; the establishment insists on quickly purchasing 400 systems from Russia, while the army wants to examine offers from Israel, France and Sweden. The Indian political establishment claims such a large order would bind the Russians to transfer technology and provide spares in time, but the army points out that there is no reason for emergency purchase and that other offers should be properly evaluated.

Recently, Mukherjee told newsmen that India's air force currently flies fighter jets made by France's Dassault Aviation, and signed a deal in September 2000 to buy 10 new planes to replace aircraft lost out of a 1985 order of 49 Mirages. Mukherjee said the Cabinet Committee on Security had authorized the Defense Ministry to open negotiations with Qatar to buy a dozen more Mirage warplanes.

India had also given the green light for the purchase of 11 Dornier aircraft at a cost of $157 million, and for upgrading British vertical takeoff Sea Harrier fighter jets with a new missile system from an unnamed Israeli firm, Mukherjee said. Earlier this year, India announced plans to buy 126 jet fighters to bolster its fleet by five squadrons in the next 15 years. It is considering a number of potential suppliers, including Russia's MiG-29K, Dassault's Mirage-2005/5, the Grippen from Saab, a British-Swedish consortium, and Lockheed Martin's F-16 and Boeing's F-18.

What the defense minister must take into account, however, is the new level of pressure that he will face from potential new suppliers. For instance, news reports indicate that apart from discussing and demonstrating anti-missile defense systems, the key US aim in taking Mukherjee to Hawaii will be to remove mistrust in US-India strategic relations.

In February, while in Bangalore attending Aero Show 2005, US Ambassador David C Mulford made note that with India indicating that it will source military equipment from more countries, the US, which has a small market share in this sector, intends to become a major player. The US-India bilateral relationship, which was at an "all-time high", was getting better, and greater military cooperation was an integral part of these ties, Mulford said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:22 AM


IAF gets more teeth along Pak border
With the Army now establishing the new South-Western Command to bolster strike capabilities along the Indo-Pak border, the IAF too is taking steps to further enhance credible conventional deterrence and offensive options on the western front.

IAF plans to base the 12 Mirage-2000-V multi-role fighter jets, which are being acquired from Qatar, at the Adampur station near Jalandhar in Punjab, say sources. The Halwara airbase, also in Punjab, in turn, is likely to get a squadron of Sukhoi-30MKI "air dominance fighters".

The IAF has also operationalised a new airbase at Phalodi, 110-km northwest of Jodhpur, which is "strategically placed" near the border. Another airbase is slated to come up at Deesa, near Mt Abu.

The Cabinet Committee on Security had cleared the acquisition of the second-hand Mirages from Qatar, which still have 80-87% service life left in them, in end-March.

The IAF, of course, is also looking at French Mirage-2000-Vs, apart from the American F-16s, Swedish Gripen and Russian MiG-29M2s, for its medium-term project to induct 126 such fighters.

IAF's existing three Mirage-2000 squadrons - nicknamed "Tigers", "Battle-Axes" and "Wolfpack" - are based in Gwalior. "They can be moved to forward bases when required," said an officer.

Adampur, incidentally, was the base from which Mirages, armed with laser-guided bombs, launched operations against Pakistani forces atop Tiger Hill, Tololing and other places during the 1999 Kargil conflict.

Even during Operation Parakram, the massive forward deployment of troops after the December 2001 Parliament attack, the Mirages were moved to Adampur in preparation for strikes against terrorist training camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir.

The Mirage-2000s and Sukhoi-30MKIs, of course, have been designated as the preferred nuclear delivery assets. The IAF is now selecting important airbases to house future Sukhoi squadrons to keep pace with fresh deliveries.

So far, two Sukhoi squadrons, nicknamed "Lightnings" and "Rhinos", are based in Pune, while another called "Hawks" is at Bareilly.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:20 AM


India Seeks Foreign Air Defense Gear

DefenseNews, 5-23-05

The Indian Air Force would spend roughly $200 million on foreign air-defense radar equipment under a proposal sent to the Defence Ministry in early May and expected to be approved, a senior ministry official said.

The proposal would revamp the Air Defense Ground Environment System (ADGES), the backbone of the country’s air defense system, to transmit data by digital instead of analog systems. It also would make India the only south Asian nation that could detect and jam ballistic missiles, an Air Force planner said. The Air Force would seek bids to license production of 15 ground-based systems to detect incoming missiles up to 300 kilometers away. Bids will be sought from Italy’s AMS, Israel’s Elta and France’s Thales, the planner said. The radar would be built by state-owned Bharat Electronics.

The Air Force’s priority for the next three years is making the ADGES six to eight times better, a senior Air Force procurement official said. Air Force specialists would build the classified system without aid from private firms or scientists from the state’s Defence Research and Development Organisation. The Air Force will run the system, but some data may be shared with the Army or Navy, the procurement official said.

ADGES has three detection tiers. The first consists of Army troops with field glasses some 25 kilometers inside the border. The Air Force has installed fiber optic cables and satellite communication to assist the troops in reporting.

The second tier consists of six clusters of Soviet-made air-defense radar networked with Indian TRS-221 5B 3-D service radar that spot targets 300 kilometers away.

The 3-D radar pass information to the third-tier Air Defense Control Centers, which direct Russian-made Pechora and Osa-akm surface-to-air missiles. India’s air defenses also include L-40/70 radar-directed 40mm anti-aircraft guns and man-portable Igla surface-to-air missiles.

The Air Force also wants to spend $40 million to license production of 20 low-altitude surveillance radar sets and $35 million on better missile-detection radar sets for key Air Force bases around the country, the planner said. •


Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 10:35 AM


The New India - Dr. Manmohan Singh at the UN
Wall Street Journal:
May 19th, 2005
The New India
By Dr. Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India
Dr. Manmohan Singh at the UN

If a commitment to remain an open society is one of the pillars of India’s nationhood, the other is our commitment to remain an open economy –one that guarantees freedom of enterprise, respects individual creativity, and mobilizes public investment for social infrastructure. Indeed, it would be no exaggeration to suggest that these are the principles to which all countries will increasingly want to adhere.

Just as developed industrial economies enabled “economies in transition” to graduate into open economies, developed democracies should also assist “societies in transition” to become open societies. I believe India’s policies toward the world have been shaped by this commitment, and we should be proud to identify with those who defend the values of liberal democracy and secularism across the world.

Over the past decade, the debate in India on the nature of our interaction with our wider Asian neighborhood – and with major powers – has also been shaped by sweeping changes in our economic policy. The initiatives India took in the early 1990s toward economic liberalization have not only altered our interaction with the world, but have also shaped global perceptions of India. Indeed, they have shaped more than mere perceptions. They have also altered the manner in which other nations, big and small, relate to us. Today, there is a greater willingness internationally to work with India – and to build relationships of mutual benefit.

The steps that successive Indian governments have taken since 1991 have helped to finally remove what development planners used to refer to as the external constraint on growth. Indian industry and Indian professionals have demonstrated their ability to step out with the confidence from a highly protected environment into a mercilessly competitive one.

We do have a vast unfinished agenda of social and economic development, and my government’s priority will be to implement this. Doing so will further enable us to deal with the challenges of globalization. The global environment has never been more conducive to India’s economic development than it is today. The world wants India to do well. However, we recognize that our real challenges are at home. It is for this reason that we place such great emphasis on increasing investment in infrastructure, agriculture, health and education, urban renewal and the knowledge economy. Having ensured that there is today no external constraint on growth, we must now ensure that there remains now internal constraints to development.

To say that the external constraints on growth have gone, however, is not to suggest that we are making full use of new opportunities. There is much more that we can do to draw on global savings and global markets. As a developing economy, we must tap international resources to fuel our development. We should be more open to global capital inflows and better prepared to take advantage of new markets for goods and services. India is wholly committed to multilateralism in trade: But we will seek the reform and democratization of multilateral institutions.

Globalization is both an opportunity and a challenge. A decade ago, who could have imagined that India would be a major software services exporter and that a new process of “brain gain” –not “brain drain” would be created by opportunities in these sectors? We now ask ourselves if we are doing enough to secure this edge. The growth of India’s knowledge economy has opened up new markets for science- and technology based products. In manufacturing, too, there are global opportunities. The end of the multifiber agreement opens up new vistas for trade in textiles.

India would like to make globalization a “win win” game. How we deal with its challenge- and how we make use of its opportunities- will shape our relations with the world, and the perception of our capabilities as a nation. This has already happened in substantial measure. Our relations with major powers, especially the U.S. and more recently, China, have increasingly been shaped by economic factors. Who could have imagined that China would emerge as our second largest trading partner? In the case of the U.S., an acceleration of people-to-people contact and the consequent business-to-business interaction has forged closer state-to-state relations. Shared values and growing economic links have enabled a closer strategic engagement.

Similarly, business and commerce also underpin India’s strategic partnership with the European Union. It must be our endeavor to ensure that economic and commercial links contribute to a strong and new element in our traditionally friendly relations with Russia. In fact, I believe that our strategic relationship with the Russian Federation can be greatly enriched by a great focus on bilateral economic relations. Renewed cooperation in the economic field is giving a new profile to India’s relations with Japan, with Japanese investment flows set to increase. Concern for energy security has become an important element of Indian diplomacy and is shaping our relations with a range of countries across the globe, in West Asia, Central Asia, Africa and Latin America.

It is notable that the response of other countries to India’s national security concerns is being shaped by perceptions of business and economic opportunities. Countries that imposed sanctions on India when we declared ourselves a nuclear weapons power are building bridges with us, to take advantage of the opportunities for mutual economic benefit. None of us can underestimate the role of economic independence in international relations. The example of the EU, Asean and Apec, NAFTA and other regional groups shows that the most dynamic economies are creating such relationships for mutual benefit, regional security and peace.

Indeed, India seeks to be more closely engaged with such regional groups. Our links with each of these regions is both civilization and contemporary, with people of Indian origin acting as a cultural bridge between our multicultural societies. Our foreign policy is, of course, shaped by our civilizational values, and by our commitment to peace and freedom. But it is now equally shaped by our commitment to our economic development, within the framework of an open society and an open economy.

Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 5:25 PM


Six IAF officers graduate in Hawk Jet flying course
Ushering in a new era for the Indian Air Force, six of its officers today successfully completed their fast jet flying course and graduated to fly the UK-made 'Hawk' Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) aircraft.

Prince Charles, in his capacity as Honorary Air Commodore, presented the Graduation certificates to the six officers in a special ceremony at the RAF Valley in the Wales, and hoped the Hawks would prove to be a great success to the Indian Air Force.

The flying officers who graduated are Jai Singh Brar (Gurgaon - Mirage 2000 pilot), Manoj Garg (Lucknow - Sukhoi 30 pilot), Rohit Kataria (Trichur - Sukhoi 30 pilot), Saurabh Pachauri (Patiala - Sukhoi 30 pilot), Vinod Prabhakaran (Lucknow - Sukhoi 30 pilot) and Anand Kumar Singh (Sagar (MP) - Jaguar pilot).

They were trained as part of a 790 million pounds deal India had reached in 2004 with British Aerospace Systems (BAE), makers of 'Hawk,' for purchasing 66 aircraft.

Saurabh Pachauri received two trophies, the SAP Trophy and the Cup of Honour. Rohit Kataria received the Indian Air Force prize - The Wragg Trophy for his all round excellence.

Vinod Prabhakaran received the British Aerospace all round Trophy, while Manoj Garg received the Leigh Fox Award for a student who has shown outstanding improvement.

Besides the cost of training of pilots, the Hawk deal inked last March also included cost of transfer of technology, creation of infrastructure facilities, the licence fee and the cost of production of the aircraft by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in Bangalore.

Of the 66 Hawks that India has contracted for, 24 will be imported directly in the "fly away" condition. The rest will be manufactured under Licence at HAL in Bangalore under a transfer-of-technology agreement. The whole deal will be completed in six years' time.

The first batch of four Hawk AJTs is expected to arrive in India in September 2007 with tranches of four aircrafts to follow each month upto April 2008.

As part of the package, 75 IAF pilots would be trained by RAF at Valley in Wales.

Prince Charles, who congratulated the Indian pilots, also presented honours and awards to several British Air Force personnel for their long service and good conduct in Iraq, Afghanistan and other combat fields.

The six Indian flying officers have been at the Valley undergoing training in the Hawk AJT during the last 11 months and had come out with flying colours winning admirations from Hawk Trainers.

The Hawk is the most successful aircraft of its type ever to be built, with India being its 19th customer. India is the third biggest purchaser of Hawks after British Royal Air Force and the Republic of South Africa. There are some 800 Hawk AJTs currently in service worldwide.

Lack of an AJT had more recently been cited as one of the major causes of rising MiG crashes in the Indian Air Force - whose fighter pilots were being trained on the MiG-21 which is considered a difficult aircraft to fly. As many as 230 MiGs have crashed since 1990.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:24 AM


US jets to India outweigh F-16s to Pak: CRS
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) as in its report said that the arsenal being provided by the US o India would far outweigh and outclass the weapons and fighter ets Washington is providing Islamabad with.

The report states that while Pakistan will get as many as 18 to 1 F-16 Falcon combat jets, India might be offered 126 F-16s or he even more advanced F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.

The report states that while the "F-16 Falcon is a single engine ulti-role aircraft manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp, the /A-18E/F Super Hornet is a dual engine, multi-role aircraft anufactured by the Boeing Company and presently the most modern S combat aircraft in full rate production," reports the Daily imes.

The report states that India enjoys a more quantitative and ualitative advantage over Pakistan Air Force (PAF) and has 21 ore fighter squadrons than Pakistan and a larger number of odern aircraft. It says that India operates an aircraft carrier ith short-take off and vertical landing fighters and also has acilities for mid-air refuelling, electronic countermeasures, nd modern airborne warning and control aircraft.

It concludes that while the sale of F-16s to Pakistan would ncrease the number of fighters in its fleet, it would not in any ay bring it in close parity with India, adding that the addition f F-16s or F/A-18s in the Indian Air Force (IAF) would further ncrease the disparity between the IAF and the PAF.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:21 AM


Bush's Indian gambit
ITS logic is inescapable yet the idea has been inconceivable: a strategic partnership between the two great democracies, the US and India, long divided by distrust and the Cold War.

Yet it is happening. George W. Bush has reached out to India and one of the coming debates in global politics will be over the manner and meaning of his decision to support India's quest to become a global power.

India's Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Washington in July, with Bush reportedly saying this will be treated as a "grand event", and at the year's end Bush will visit India.

A round of interviews in New Delhi this week elicited a plethora of views as India's political elite debates how far it should enter the US embrace. But India is being wooed and its pride at this is palpable.

The Bush administration, far more cohesive with Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State, has launched a diplomatic offensive with India that is stunning in its rhetoric and serious in its content. "India's relations with the US are now the best they have ever been," says Rajiv Sikri, the senior official on East Asia at India's external affairs ministry.

When the two leaders briefly met in Moscow this month at celebrations to honour the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, Bush introduced his wife Laura to Singh, saying, "This is the Prime Minister of India and I'm going to take you to his country this Christmas-New Year so you can see the most fascinating democracy in the world."

The message in New Delhi is that Bush and Singh can do business. How much business they do remains to be seen but the US has set the bar very high. When Rice visited India in March she said: "This is my first stop as Secretary of State in Asia. The President has personally put a lot of time and energy into the relationship. The US has determined that this is going to be a very important relationship going forward and we're going to put whatever time we need into it." The aim was to take US-India ties "to another level."

In a calculated State Department briefing in Washington on March 25 (now famous in New Delhi), the real US purpose was made explicit. The spokesman said that Bush and Rice earlier this year "developed the outline for a decisively broader strategic relationship" between the US and India. When Rice went to New Delhi she presented this outline to Singh, its purpose being "to help India become a major world power in the 21st century", the abiding dream of the Indian elite.

The spokesman continued: "We [the US] understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement."

It is rare in the past 100 years that a US president has sent a signal of this dimension. It means the US will help India realise the global aspiration that its size, geography and its post-1991 economic reform agenda has made into a national obsession.

Events are moving fast. The US is offering India a top-of-the-line version of the F-16, hi-tech defence and space co-operation in terms of satellites and launch vehicles, Patriot and Arrow missiles, and access to civilian nuclear technology. (India's aim is to generate 25 per cent to 30 per cent of its huge energy needs from nuclear.)

"The strategic dialogue will include global issues, the kinds of issues you would discuss with a world power," the State Department spokesman said. The US was prepared to "discuss even more fundamental issues of defence transformation with India, including transformative systems in areas such as command and control, early warning and missile defence."

After Rice's visit, US ambassador to India David Mulford said the US and India "are poised for a partnership that will be crucial in shaping the international order in the 21st century".

While Bill Clinton's 2000 visit to India symbolised a new outlook, the conceptual change has come under Bush. Ashley Tellis, from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says it has been shaped by Rice, her new deputy Bob Zoellick and counsellor Philip Zelikow.

Bush initially appointed Bob Blackwill as US ambassador to India to upgrade the relationship and the 2002 National Security Strategy, which said the US sought a "transformation in its bilateral relationship with India".

Now it is going further – the US has recast decisively its policy towards India and South Asia. The core judgment is that a strong, democratic and influential India is an asset for the US in the region and the world. The US no longer narrowly defines India within the terms of its rivalry with Pakistan and Bush accepts the reality of India as a nuclear power.

Bush's thinking is shaped by India's democratic values in contrast with China's authoritarianism. Its strategic essence is the US view that India as a second Asian giant, capitalist, multicultural and democratic, will exert a gravitational pull that must limit China's aspiration as a future hegemon and help to balance its rise. This is a new long-run US position (and it doesn't assume that India can overtake China).

It should test how far India's elite has transcended the Nehruian diplomatic legacy. It seems, however, that Singh will accept the US overtures and India will negotiate to get the best deals possible. By saying yes to the US, India is hardly selling its soul. It is not being asked to become an ally similar to Japan or Australia since that would be impossible anyway.

India thinks it can manage this US embrace on its own terms. It knows that China and the world will have to take India more seriously and India will have to give China assurances it is not joining any US "containment of China" strategy. All this is already under way.

Singh's media aide Sanjaya Baru says: "India is an ancient civilisation and has a mind of its own on each issue. But our views are moving in parallel with the US and Anglo-Saxon world." Baru sees a new realism in India's policy that dates from the 1991 economic reform era with growth now running at 6 per cent to 7 per cent each year.

Singh, an economic technocrat, has declared that India's new role in the world will be defined by how it manages globalisation. That is a long advance from Nehru. And it dictates a diplomacy to underwrite entrepreneurship, markets and technology, with all that implies for a more positive view of the US.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:18 AM


The two faces of Pakistani terror
The rising tempo against al-Qaeda in Pakistan at the behest of United States forces is having an impact in India. In the recent past, the US/Pakistan intelligence agencies have met with some success in the crackdown that has reportedly been meticulously planned over the last six months. Following this month's arrest of al-Qaeda operative Abu Faraj al-Libbi, the Libyan national who allegedly masterminded assassination attempts on Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf in 2003, reports from Pakistan suggest US and Pakistani forces have extracted information from him on other al-Qaeda members, as well as Osama bin Laden. Several US papers have reported the killing of al-Qaeda figure Haithan al-Yemeni by a missile from a Central Intelligence Agency-operated unmanned aerial drone along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, though official confirmation still remains hazy.

But even as US/Pakistani forces appear to be making some headway in the "war on terror", Indian Kashmir, a cauldron of terrorist activities, has begun to simmer. A string of bomb attacks have rocked Kashmir in the past few weeks, the worst being an attack last week on school children in the heart of Srinagar that left two dead and more than 20 children among 50 injured. Then, on Friday, a bomb wrapped as a gift exploded in a home in south Srinagar killing three family members. Last month, passengers of the India-Pakistan peace bus connecting Indian and Pakistan Kashmir experienced a close call when terrorists struck tourist quarters in the heart of Srinagar, where they were staying, despite heavy security. The police in New Delhi, meanwhile, arrested suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists that were allegedly planning a series of bomb attacks in the capital.

There are two lines of thought that follow the attacks in India: one is that the terrorists on the run in the rest of Pakistan are desperate to make a mark elsewhere, with Indian Kashmir providing a convenient field of operation. Second, the attacks are actually being masterminded by the Pakistan army, at the behest of the top powers, while keeping an extensive public relations exercise in place through the peace process with India. This keeps the hard sell to the extremists within Pakistan in place that all is being done to protect Muslim rights in Kashmir, while making the business of improved India-Pakistan relations sinister.

Some observers see a connection between the attacks in India: whenever the incumbent Pakistani establishment is accused of kowtowing to the US in Pakistan, a situation made worse by the infamous "dog" cartoon (see below), terror attacks in the name of "freedom struggle" rear their ugly head in India. Some call it an age-old strategy - assuaging seething fundamentalist feelings due to US operations on the western borders by orchestrating deadly attacks in India on the eastern front.

Events in the recent past have only fueled anti-US sentiment. A survey carried out by Online, a Pakistani-based news agency, revealed hurt national pride following the depiction of Pakistan as the US's pet dog in The Washington Times after the killing of Abu Faraj. Though the paper has since apologized, people cutting across class divides have demanded that the government quit supporting the US in its "war against terrorism".

As part of the typical balancing act, Musharraf has patted himself on the back for taking on al-Qaeda, while on the same note saying that a solution in Kashmir is still far off. "We have broken [al-Qaeda's] back. They cease to exist as a cohesive, homogenous body under good command and control, vertical and horizontal," he said. But in the same interview, Musharraf was quoted: "Soft borders are not a solution to the Kashmir dispute, but could be a step towards confidence building between Pakistan and India."

Indeed, Indian security forces have been warning of attacks during summer months, when the snow melts and infiltration from across the border is at its highest. Security officials have been saying that a soft border with Pakistan in Kashmir has to be a careful and calibrated exercise, after the opening of borders due to the India-Pakistan bus service in Kashmir. They caution that any success in checking terror activities in Indian Kashmir is due to strict vigil by security forces as well as the implementation by India of the fencing along the Line of Control that separates Indian and Pakistani Kashmir. This has resulted in a marked decline in the levels of infiltration of armed militants. Infiltration levels are usually down during the winter months (November-February) due to heavy snowfall but pick up after April once the snow melts. Officials fear the period of lull is over.

According to a senior official of the Indian intelligence bureau, "While there is no gainsaying the fact that the India-Pakistan peace process must proceed with the bus service [that connects Srinagar and Muzzaffarabad], a major step forward, the government has to take care to ensure that the intelligence structure in Kashmir is strengthened once the physical barriers to entry are reduced."

Writing in the Indian Express, Arun Shourie, former government minister and journalist, said: "Sectarian terrorists in Pakistan are thriving in an atmosphere of religious intolerance for which its military government is largely to blame. Musharraf has repeatedly pledged that he would eradicate religious extremism and sectarianism and transform Pakistan into a moderate Muslim state. In the interests of retaining power, he has done the opposite ... Instead of empowering liberal, democratic voices, the government has co-opted the religious right and continues to rely on it to counter civilian opposition ..."

But, as usual, for every argument that Musharraf should be castigated there are others that say he should be given a long rope and has indeed had a "change of heart", as expressed by him during his recent visit to India. Noted commentator Pratap Bhanu Mehta, also writing in the Indian Express, said: "Support for Pakistan inside Kashmir is at its lowest. The Americans will cut Pakistan a lot of slack, but their fundamental perceptions about terrorism have changed. The extent of militant Islam in Pakistan is always difficult to gauge, but there are reasons to think that its influence is exaggerated. As a recent World Bank paper by Jishnu Das shows with credible data, madrassas still account for less than 1% of school enrollment in Pakistan. This is not to deny that Pakistan has the capacity for serious cross-border mischief, but it is far from being a society that will go lock, stock and barrel over to the mullahs. If anything, greater Islamization will produce more serious threats within Pakistan and intensify their own internal conflicts. And civil society trends seem to be shifting as well."

However, in the mayhem created by the terror attacks, there is a cause for cheer. It is the first time in years that credible and young political voices in the form of Omar Abdullah (National Conference), Mehbooba Mufti (Peoples Democratic Party) and Mirwaiz Umer Farooq (moderate faction of the Hurriyat party) have emerged. These leaders, despite belonging to rival political parties, speak in one voice about the betterment of the Kashmiri people, who have now begun to trust them.

The people of Kashmir tired of violence have also risen in one voice against the attack on children. Last Friday, hundreds of school children marched through Srinagar, chanting slogans and holding placards saying "we are flowers of a garden, allow us to bloom" to protest against the bomb attack. Several similar spontaneous rallies have taken place across Kashmir, New Delhi and the rest of the country.

There has been some criticism of the Manmohan Singh government in New Delhi, caught in the mire of handling coalition politics. Like past dispensations, the approach of the Manmohan government toward Kashmir has been episodic, with periods of disinterest and lull in tackling the problems of the people who have to be roped into the path of progress to definitively shun terrorism. Everybody agrees that the solution in Kashmir relates to tourism - a money spinner for the region - and development, which can only come with peace. The issues have to be addressed on a continuous basis.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:30 AM


China to get invite for Army exercise
The world's third-largest Army is now ready for an even deeper engagement with the largest one. After wide-ranging military CBMs, the Indian Army is now planning to invite Chinese officers to witness its combat exercise to be held later this year in Rajasthan.

The Army will showcase its armoured might in the shape of new T-90S main-battle tanks and the recently-upgraded T-72 tanks to the Chinese during the desert exercise.

Though a small step, it indicates the transforming military ties between the two armies which have been deeply suspicious of each other ever since the 1962 conflict, in which 3,250 Indian soldiers were killed. Just a few years ago, the then defence minister, George Fernandes, described China as "a potential threat number one".

The Army, of course, is still wary of the rapidly-modernising People's Liberation Army (PLA), which has 2.27 million "active" troops, its occasional incursions across the unresolved 4,057-km Line of Actual Control (LAC), and its "deep" military ties with Pakistan.

But with a military protocol being signed during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's visit here in April, bilateral military ties are now firmly on an upward trajectory. There might even be a joint counter-terrorist exercise in the near future, say sources.

The formal invite for the armour exercise might well be extended during the visit of chief of general staff of PLA, General Liang Guanglie, also a member of the powerful Chinese central military commission, to India next week.

Apart from talks with defence minister Pranab Mukherjee and the three Service chiefs, Guanglie will get a detailed presentation on India's security perspectives, the integrated command structure of the Indian forces and military information technology applications.

The two sides will also discuss the April protocol on the modalities for the implementation of CBMs along the LAC, which now specifically define the conditions at the ground level by going far ahead of the earlier November 1996 agreement.

The two armies often have "face-to-face confrontations" on the border due to "differing perceptions about where the LAC lies". The protocol lays down that the two will "exercise self-restraint" and take "all necessary steps" to avoid any escalation.

These steps include immediate cessation of activities, no threat or use of force, return to bases and informing their respective HQs. The protocol also tackles air intrusions in a similar fashion, with flag meetings within 48 hours for seeking clarifications.

During his six-day visit, beginning on May 23, Guanglie will also be visiting the 50 (independent) Parachute Brigade, Southern Army Command at Pune, National Defence Academy, College of Military Engineering and Western Naval Command at Mumbai.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:32 AM


India, Russia lock horns over Brahmos IPR
The joint India-Russian Brahmos missile project is in jeopardy, as the two countries have locked horns over the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) pact. Touted as superior to conventional cruise missile, like the Tomahawk, the BrahMos (a conjunction of the words Brahmaputra and Moskva, names of rivers) with a range of 280 kms travels at supersonic speed. At the core of the dispute is the Russian demand that India will not pass on any tactical information on the Russian weapon platforms to the third countries.

India is not ready to accept the condition as it would prevent up gradation from other countries and bind it to buy, irrespective of whatever be the cost, from Russia only. The Brahmos is actually based on the Yokhant missile of Russia and India provides its inertial navigation system. It has been earmarked for export to "friendly" countries. Between January and May, Moscow and New Delhi have twice done a back-and-forth on drafts of an Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) agreement. Russia is India's largest supplier of military hardware, with more than 60 per cent of equipment for the armed forces being sourced from that country.

But India's recent attempts to look for supplies from Israel and other countries have made the Russians suspicious of Delhi's intent. Russians are insisting on signing up of a stringent secrecy clause before the military relations can be graduated to higher levels involving co-production of equipment on the model of the collaboration for the Brahmos missile, the sources said. They want these provisions at two levels. First, at the level of co-production arrangements for equipment in Indian ordnance factories.

Second, Moscow is also wary of India passing on information on original Russian weapons platforms in upgrading them with Israeli technology or technology sourced from former Soviet Bloc countries such as Uzbekistan. The ordnance factories often source components from ancillaries in the private or public sector. Moscow is insisting that such arrangements need an explicit permission from Russian companies that are original equipment manufacturers. "We want more flexibility in the agreement," Defence Secretary Ajay Vikram Singh said here recently. He was in Moscow recently and presented an alternate draft to the Russians. He said that India wanted flexibility to make changes in the equipment to suit its climate and needs.

Russians are not even allowing modifications like airconditioning of T-90 tanks, necessary to operate them in Rajasthan and Kutch deserts. Besides, Brahmos, Russia's insistence of involvement in all upgrades of their equipment has hit India's plans to purchase three airborne early warning and control systems (AWACS) from Israel, the upgradation of 125 MiG-21 and 27 fighters and Tu-142 maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

India wanted to mount an Israeli-made Phalcon AWACS on a Russian Il-76 aircraft. As it involved change in the design of Il-76, Russians want they be made party to the deal. India was also planning to induct French and Israeli avionics and weapon system while upgrading 125 MiG-21 Bis fighters. They even want to get involved in the MiG-27 upgradation, which is totally being done by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, a public sector company.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:31 AM


A-I fracas may sink Scorpene deal
The first victim of Airbus Industrie losing out to Boeing on Air-India’s recent Rs 30,000-crore deal may be none other than the much-delayed $1.8-billion deal to acquire French Scorpene submarines.

The government, which was expected to clear the deal earlier this month for the Indian Navy, now seems to have put it off for some more time.

Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee told FE, "There are some problems in the Scorpene deal and we are looking into them."

Sources in the defence ministry said this was an indication that the deal had now been put on backburner due to the recent comments of the French ambassador in India, Dominique Girard, on the Airbus deal.

Another acquisition plan -- of 126 combat aircraft for the Indian Air Force in which the French Mirages are competing -- could also be put on hold, sources said. French company Dassault is a strong contender for the deal.

The Scorpene deal, which has been awaiting clearance from the Cabinet Committee on Security, is getting delayed for almost a couple of years now.

India has been in negotiations with the French company to acquire and jointly develop at the Mazagaon docks six 1,500-tonne Scorpene submarines.

For a year now, the defence ministry has been saying that it is close to clinching the deal estimated at $1.8 billion.

In March, the deal was almost clinched but was put off at the last minute amid indications that a German manufacturer Howaldtshwerke Deutsche Werft (HDW), which was cleared of bribery charges, would now bid for the programme much to the chagrin of the Navy.

"We have waited long, in fact too long," chief of naval staff Admiral Arun Prakash said, when asked about the proposal to acquire the Scorpene submarines. "The proposal is in its very last stages. It has been there for some time," he said.

Last year, the defence ministry headed by George Fernandes also had claimed that it was close to signing the deal.

In 1997, the government had given clearance for both types of new-generation submarines under Project 75. Since then negotiations have been on with the French shipyard DCN, which manufactures Scorpene.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:29 AM


Indian Navy to take part in exercises off Singapore
Two indigenously built Indian Warships - guided missile destroyer INS Mysore and fast attack craft INS Tarasa - would be taking part in multilateral tactical exercises off the Singapore coast from May 21.

The warships along with tanker Sagar would be taking part in the exercises as part of deployment in international maritime defence exhibition to be held in Singapore from May 16.

Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash, would lead the Indian delegation, according to Navy sources.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:27 AM


India Successfully Test Fires Nuclear-Capable Missile
India on May 12 successfully tested a nuclear-capable missile from a test range in the eastern state of Orissa, a defense ministry spokesman said.

The test of the Prithvi-1 missile took place at the Chandipur-on-Sea test site in the eastern state of Orissa at 1:04 p.m., the spokesman said.

The missile has a range of 250 kilometers (190 miles) and can carry conventional or low-yield nuclear warheads.

Nuclear-capable India and Pakistan, which have fought three wars, two over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, routinely carry out missile tests and normally notify each other in advance under an agreement.

The 8.5-meter (28-foot) surface-to-surface missile, first tested in February 1988, is under trials before its induction into the army’s arsenal, other defense officials said. The missile was lasted tested on March 19.

The missile is designed for battlefield use against troops or armored formations, defense officials said.

Two other variants of the Prithvi, with a strike range of between 250 and 350 kilometers would be handed over to the navy and air force once tests were completed.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:17 AM


Confidence Building Measures

The Government decided to reduce troops in Jammu & Kashmir as a confidence building measure following improvement in the overall security situation in the State. Opening of Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Bus service and the joint declaration by India and Pakistan during the recent visit of Pakistan President Parvez Musharraf where some other steps were also initiated in this direction.

Department Of Ex-Servicemen Welfare Created

As per the commitment made in the National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP), a new Department for welfare of ex-servicemen has been created in the Ministry of Defence with a view to give more attention to the problems of ex-servicemen.

Increase in Defence Allocation

Keeping in view the increased need for modernisation of armed forces, the allocation for Ministry of Defence in the Budget Estimates 2005-06 was increased to an all time high of Rs. 83,000 crore. The allocation for Capital expenditure is Rs. 34,375.14 crore. The proposed capital outlay for 2005-06 also includes Rs.1,364 crore for married accommodation project. The capital outlay for Research & Development has also been considerably increased from Rs 1,657.78 crore to Rs 2,541.86 crore. The Budget allocation for the financial year 2005-06 provides for Rs 7,166 crore for new acquisitions for the Armed Forces. This is substantially higher than the allocation for the last financial year, which was only Rs.1000 crore.

AV Singh Committee Report

The government has issued orders to implement the phase 1 of the Ajai Vikram Singh Committee recommendations involving the restructuring of the officers’ cadre, reduction in qualifying service for promotion in non-select ranks and a package of peel off measures to mitigate stagnation. This will help in achieving optimum combat effectiveness by bringing down the age profile of battalion / brigade commanders and to make the three services more effective in fulfilling individual career aspirations of the officers.

The Fifth International Aerospace Exhibition, ‘Aero India 2005’ was held at Bangalore in February 2005. The significant feature of Aero India 2005 was the increase in the Indian participation from 74 companies to about 140 companies this time. Besides, Indian exhibitors, exhibitors from 30 countries including USA, Russia, UK, France, Israel, Italy, Germany, Poland, participated in the show. More than 350 leading companies showcased their aircraft and aerospace products/equipment through air display, static display and exhibition, attracting a large turn out of professionals and businessmen across the world. This biennial exposition has gained the status of a major Aerospace event in this part of the world.

Relief Operations

A massive relief and rescue operation was carried out jointly by Army, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard for Tsunami affected people. A number of aircraft, helicopters and sea vessels were pressed into service. Tonnes of relief material including food, clothing, medicines, tentage and drinking water was airlifted to the affected areas. The rescue and relief operations of this magnitude were never carried out by the Armed Forces in the past. The Navy extended help to the Tsunami affected people of Maldives, Indonesia and Sri Lanka also. The Army and Air Force also carried out a massive relief and rescue operations during the heavy snow avalanche in J&K during the last winter.

GoM On One-Rank One Pension Issue

As per its commitment made in NCMP, the Government has constituted a Group of Ministers to go into the issue of one rank - one pension scheme for retired servicemen.

Induction Of SUKHOI Aircraft

The first indigenously built Sukhoi MK-I was inducted into the Air Force in March. 2005. The aircraft assembled at Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Ozhar near Nashik rolled out in November 2004. It was the first of the 140 aircraft proposed to be built in India under Russian license. SU-30 aircraft is a twin engine, twin seater, multi-role fighter that can simultaneously be operated as an intercepter, bomber and trainer. It is capable of attaining a maximum speed of two Mach with a maximum climb rate of 270 metres per second.

Arjun Battle Tanks Inducted

The first batch of five indigenously manufactured Main Battle Tank Arjun rolled out of the Heavy Vehicles Factory in Avadi, Tamil Nadu on August 7, 2004. The superior armour defeating capability of the indigenously developed Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot ammunition and 120 mm calibre rifled gun give MBT Arjun an edge over contemporary world tanks. A computer-controlled integrated fire control system incorporating day-cum-night stabilised sighting system guarantees a very high first round hit probability and reduced reaction time to bring effective fire on targets. All round protection from anti-tank ammunition is achieved by the newly developed Kanchan armour to a degree much higher than available in present generation tanks. The Arjun will be the main stay of the Indian Army.

Air Defence Ship Project

The construction of the country’s first aircraft carrier known as Air Defence Ship formally started with the steel cutting ceremony at Kochi Shipyard on April 11, 2005. This is developed jointly by DRDO and SAIL. It has the speed of more than 28 knots, is 252 mtr long, displacing over 37,500 tons water, capable of operating a formidable array of 20 modern fighter aircraft and 10 helicopters of different types. The ship is expected to enter service in 2012.

Creation Of Army New Command

The Indian Army announced the creation of its new command known as South Western Command with its Headquarters at Jaipur, which formally came into being on April 18, 2005. Lt. Gen K Nagraj became its first GOC-in-C.


Brahmos, a Supersonic Anti-Ship Cruise Missile, developed by Defence Research Development Organisation was successfully flight tested for the tenth time on April 15, 2005. The highlight of this test carried out in combat mode with a number of naval vessels participating, was that Brahmos with its warhead fired from a naval ship impacted on the target ship accurately, destroying it completely.

Agni – II

The third flight test of Agni-II Missile was carried out successfully on August 29, 2004. The launch of Agni-II from its rail mobile launcher met all the mission objectives including achieving the high accuracy in guiding the payload to the designated target at 1,200 km range.

Prithvi – III

Prithvi-III, a modified version of surface-to-surface missile was successfully test fired on October 27, 2004 from Interim Test Range, Balasore. It has a range of 300 km. The launch achieved perfect trajectory, as per design projections. The test achieved all operational parameters to the required perfection.

IAF Records Lowest Accident Rate

The Indian Air Force (IAF) recorded the lowest accident rate last year as compared to other Air Forces of the world during the last 35 years. The accident record was .075 per every 10,000 hours of flying.

IAF Helicopter Sets New World Record

An IAF Cheetal Helicopter set a new world record on November 2, 2004 by landing at a Density Altitude of 25,150 ft at Saserkangri near Leh.

First Woman Air Marshal

Signifying the increasing role of women in the Air Force, Padmavathy Bandopadhyay became the first lady Air Marshal in the history of the Indian Air Force in October 2004.

Coast Guard Base At Jakhau

A new Coast Guard station at Jakhau (Gujarat) was commissioned on February 22, 2005. This station will provide the much needed assistance to Indian fishermen operating in the vicinity of maritime boundary with Pakistan. Two Hovercrafts have been based at Jakhau for operation in shallow water and creeks. The station is also capable of providing turn-around facility for Interceptor Boats of the Indian Coast Guard while on patrol in the area. On similar lines, nine more operational stations are on the anvil for activation shortly in a planned manner. These are Beypore, Pondicherry, Pipavav, Karwar, Vadinar, Ratnagiri, Kakinada, Gopalpur and Kamorta.

Joint Exercises

With a view to enhance the international image of Indian Air Force and its increased role as a force multiplier, the Air Force carried out Joint Exercises with the Air Forces of South Africa and Singapore. It also participated in the multi-lateral exercise COPE THUNDER in Alaska in USA. A joint aerobatic display with the French Air Force was also held at Hindon airbase. The 10-day long joint Indo-UK Command Post Planning Exercise Emerald Mercury was held in March 2005 in Hyderabad. About 58 Indian and 48 British military officers took part in this exercise which was the first of its kind between the two countries. This was essentially an exercise in planning an UN mandated joint indo-UK task force to be deployed for peace support operations to provide humanitarian relief in a strife torn country.

International Cooperation

India and Russia have reaffirmed their willingness to further strengthen their existing military and strategic partnership. This was decided in the fourth meeting of the Indo – Russian Inter Governmental Commission (IRIGC) on Military Technical Cooperation which concluded in New Delhi on December 2, 2004 with the signing of a protocol of IRIGC by the Defence Minister, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, and the Russian Defence Minister, Mr Sergei Ivanov. It has also been decided to give further boost to military-to-military cooperation between both the countries by organising more joint exercises. Both the countries have also decided to expedite the discussion on the proposals of joint development of a fifth generation aircraft; development of a multi-role transport aircraft and to increase the authorised capital of Joint Venture of Brahmos Aerospace. It has also been decided to explore the possibilities of providing maintenance, service and overhauling facilities for equipment of Russian origin, in India and nearby countries.

Kelkar Committee Report

The Kelkar Committee set up by the Government to examine and recommend changes in the acquisition procedures and enabling a greater participation of private sector in defence production submitted the first part of its report on April 5, 2005 to the Defence Minister. The Committee was headed by Dr. Vijay L Kelkar. The thrust of Part I of the Report of the Committee is “Towards strengthening self-reliance in Defence Preparedness”. This Report takes into account increased capabilities of Indian Industry and growing globalisation of the Defence industry. The Committee has adopted a long-term approach to prepare a policy regime that would encourage India’s best firms to enter into the field of defence production. To promote innovation, efficiency and cost cutting, the Committee has adopted a strategic perspective in formulating proposals towards acquisition policy reforms.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:14 AM


Ten Best Jet Fighters
What are the ten best fighter aircraft out there, and which of these planes are better than the others at the top of the heap? Fighters have one primary mission: seize control of the air, and enable their side’s attack planes to get through while also preventing the opposing side from attacking friendly forces and bases. Many of these fighters have also proven themselves to be adept at other roles (ground attack, anti-ship) as well, but their primary purpose is to control the air.

10. The JAS.39 Gripen. This is a small single-seat fighter using the American F404 turbofan engine. This aircraft is capable of numerous missions (point-defense interceptor, ground attack fighter, and even anti-shipping). It is highly maneuverable, and is a worthy successor to the Draken and Viggen interceptors that Sweden has built. This is what the 1980s F-20 Tigershark (an early competitor of the F-16 and F-18) could have been, had it not been stillborn.

9. F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. This is the ultimate Hornet, without the range limitations of the F/A-18A/B/C/D, and with two extra weapons pylons. This fighter is based on a proven design, and has even been used as a tanker with the premature retirement of the S-3 Viking. Sheer versatility – and improvement from the original make the Super Hornet’s place on this list a secure one.

8. F-15C Eagle. This is perhaps one of the last of the single-purpose aircraft. This plane has done one thing for 30 years (air-to-air combat), and done it well (over 100 kills to no losses). However, what is remarkable is the almost-untapped potential the airframe has as a ground-attack platform. The F-15E Strike Eagle has become a superb multi-role fighter. However, the F-15 has gotten long in the tooth for air superiority.

7. F-16C Fighting Falcon. This is a bird that has become a classic. Widely exported, and it has amassed a solid record. Still being built to special order for export customers, it not only has scored air-to-air kills in service with the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, but it is also one of the most numerous modern fighters in service today.

6. Su-27 Flanker. This was built to counter the F-15, and it has become one of the more feared aircraft out of Russia. Highly maneuverable, it is equipped and designed for a dogfight, it has been exported. The wide export market for this plane and its variants (the Su-30 in particular) is the primary reason for the F-22.

5. F-14D Tomcat. This is a plane that had aged like fine wine. Originally designed to face the Tu-22M3 Backfire bomber in protection of American carriers, it has become a carrier-launched version of the F-15E. Capable of long-range attacks using the AIM-54 Phoenix, the F-14 proved it was capable of dogfighting in two incidents with Libya (the U.S. Navy fighters scored four kills for no losses). This is a plane retiring before its time.

4. Eurofighter Typhoon. A low-observable multi-role fighter. It is fast, maneuverable, and carries a lot of air-to-air missiles. It also can be used for attack missions as well. This is a fighter that will be the backbone of at least four air forces (the UK, Spain, Germany, and Italy).

3. Dassault Rafale. Another European multi-role fighter with some stealth built in, this aircraft not only carries out the air-to-air and attack missions, it also comes in a naval version. Its first export order was recently signed – to Saudi Arabia. Equipped with French air-to-air missiles, it edges out the Eurofighter since its naval version could interest other countries who have carriers (Brazil and India come to mind).

2. F-35. This plane will be the new F-16 in ten years. Not only is this replacing the F-16, the A-10, the AV-8B, and some F/A-18s in U.S. service, but it will replace aircraft in other countries as well. Like the F-16, it will be produced in numbers. When it enters service, it will outclass many aircraft.

1. F/A-22 Raptor. This is the F-15C’s replacement. Entering service this year, it renders every other air-superiority aircraft obsolete. This is a plane that can not only outfly any other plane in the world, outrun any other plane in the world, and it can do so while remaining virtually unseen. The F-22 is a true heir to the F-15, and could do so in another fashion if Lockheed’s FB-22 proposal takes off.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:11 AM


India must sit at the nuclear table
For most of the world, the timeline of India's nuclear development stops rather abruptly in May 1998. At that time, a nuclear India could not exist according to the rules governing the world's nuclear-capable countries; after its nuclear tests, ironically, most of the world regarded India as if it never became a nuclear power. Relative peace on the South Asian subcontinent, awareness of a clandestine nuclear bazaar, and tectonic shifts in the global security paradigm create a unique convergence of politics, technology, and history.

The genesis of the current dilemma stretches back to the signing of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. Its framers envisaged only two categories of nations - nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states. This simple, inelegant distinction lacked the ability to manage countries' nuclear aspirations. One hundred and eighty-eight countries subscribed to this dichotomous regime.

But a handful of holdouts, among them India, questioned the provisions on which the NPT rested. In particular, India objected to the treaty's discriminatory nature - dividing the world between the "nuclear-haves" and "nuclear-have-nots" - and the tradeoff between the civilian versus military uses of nuclear energy. India's protest protected its own nuclear potential. When the "nuclear-not-yets" became "nuclear-haves", they challenged the NPT's classification system.

The declared nuclear countries of the world hoped and, heretofore, assumed that India's program might be reversed - quietly but eventually. India never has nor had any intention of turning the stub of its self-issued ticket into the nuclear club, which views India's program as "counterfeit" and thus inadmissible. Simply, those within the NPT will not accept the "outliers" as nuclear-weapon states but only as non-nuclear-weapon states, while those outside the NPT will not roll back their nuclear arsenals.

Because the nonproliferation regime ignored the outliers' existence, the NPT has weakened. According to the treaty, these outliers fit neither of the two prescribed categories of signatories. What to do with the "new" nuclear powers? Neither nuclear nor non-nuclear weapons states considered this question "urgent", even if it was "important". The attacks of September 11, 2001, and the discovery of Abdul Qadeer Khan's nuclear salesmanship in Pakistan transformed national priorities. Both of these events seemed to affect Pakistan more than India, which is why India must pay attention to them.

Pakistan and India can but will not be hyphenated. Pakistan counterbalances India as a nuclear outlier. India maintains that it has behaved responsibly - "as if" it were a signatory to the NPT. Unlike Pakistan, India's nuclear technology has remained within its borders, as a non-transferable commodity. Further, India's nuclear infrastructure has a different history and future than Pakistan's. India's commitment to nonproliferation is the key to its authorized admission to the nuclear club, despite the present structure of the nonproliferation regime.

This dilemma underlies US-India relations on the nuclear issue and redraws the India-US-Pakistan triangle. Specifically, India must reconcile its approach to nonproliferation with noncompliance with the nuclear policy of US President George W Bush. In addition to strengthening the relevance of nuclear arsenals to foreign policy formulation, the Bush administration celebrates nuclear technology while urging other countries, particularly India, to dismantle its nuclear program. One might actually fall for the hypocrisy if one believed that India-US cooperation in the civilian nuclear sector would come to fruition, despite the two countries differing on their nuclear identities and disagreeing on their commitments to nonproliferation and disarmament. The resolution of this dilemma does not lie with India joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a US-led counter-proliferation policy aimed at curtailing the illicit trafficking of weapons of mass destruction and delivery systems. The PSI abounds with questions of legality and disintegrates under matters of implementation.

The month-long NPT review conference, which began on May 2, provides an opportunity to release the "trapped" discussion about India's nuclear program, though this window will only open briefly. A relevant dialogue must consider an inclusive international system that respects the bargains negotiated during the NPT - a lofty goal, no doubt. The United Nations enveloped the foundering League of Nations, and in the same way, a new nonproliferation structure must subsume the NPT. Though not a member of the NPT, India must communicate its desire to facilitate the discussion beyond the review conference.

Further, India must return to its non-aligned roots, developing a common agenda with countries on the nuclear periphery, such as Iran, while counterbalancing the US's dismissive posture toward nonproliferation. Unless India initiates multilateral discussion on new nonproliferation efforts, it will remain in nuclear purgatory. India cannot wait for another catastrophe or country to create space at the nuclear table - instead, it must pull up a chair.

Munish Puri is a visiting researcher at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.
(Copyright 2005 Munish Puri.)


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:08 AM


Russian Air Force suspends MiG-29 flights after crash
The Russian Air Force suspended flights of MiG-29 fighters, after a MiG-29 jet crashed in Russia’s Tver region on Thursday morning, killing the pilot.

The crash and the subsequent suspension of the flights of MiG-29s cause concern in Russia as it recently submitted a request for information (RFI) to India on the fighter aircraft, in the wake of the US offer of joint production of F16s and F-18s.

‘‘The flights of MiG-29s have been suspended based on the decision of Air Force Commander-in-Chief Vladimir Mikhailov until the reasons for the air crash in the Tver region are investigated,’’ Air Force spokesman Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky told Interfax.

But in Delhi, a senior IAF officer told The Indian Express, ‘‘It is certainly tragic that the pilot reportedly lost his life in the crash. But to say that one crash could affect a commercial offer is ridiculous. The IAF has no final say on which fighters it will buy and the government has not chosen which aircraft to arm the Air Force with. The MiG-29 is only one of the contenders. Anyway, if one crash could affect an offer, I’m afraid no fighters would ever be bought or sold.’’

The officer also indicated that under existing Indo-Russian military-to-military arrangements, the two countries freely exchanged information on air accidents. ‘‘The information will be made available to us under existing agreements. We do not need to request,’’ he said.

Russian offered to transfer full technology of the MiG-29 for a comprehensive license production programme with HAL in Bangalore.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:14 AM


India, Pakistan plan Coast Guard link-up
India and Pakistan on Wednesday agreed to establish a communication link between Coast Guards of the two countries to exchange information on a variety of maritime issues, official sources said.

Indian Coast Guard officials and their counterparts in Pakistan's Maritime Security Agency, after two-days of talks, finalised a Memorandum of Understanding that would be signed after endorsement by the respective governments.

"All outstanding issues in the MoU on the establishment of communication link have been resolved leading to a consensus document," said a joint statement.

It said the communication link would provide a formal mechanism for exchange of information relating to 'violation of Exclusive Economic Zone, search and rescue operations, control of pollution, natural disasters and calamities, smuggling and drug trafficking'.

Officials said the MoU envisages establishing a telephone link with designated numbers to periodically communicate on agreed issues.

The Indian delegation was led by Director-General of Coast Guard Vice Admiral A K Singh, while the Pakistan team was headed by Director-General of Maritime Security Agency Rear Admiral Bakhtiar Mohsin.

The MoU is a first step to reach a broader understanding in future talks to liberalise procedures relating to detention of fishermen from both the countries, officials explained.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:13 AM


Analysis: Pakistan, China work on fighters
The multirole JF-17 aircraft Pakistan is building jointly with China is a mid-tech plane that fills in the gap between lower and upper technology, Brig. Shafqaat Ahmad, Pakistan's defense attaché in Washington, said.

Pakistan also is buying 24 F-16 jet fighters from the United States for its air force, leading to traditional rival India saying Islamabad has started an arms race in the region. Pakistan denies the charge.

"While we are acquiring the F-16s to meet our immediate defense requirements, the JF-17 Thunder aircraft that Pakistan is producing jointly with China has nothing to do with any arms race," Ahmad said.

He said some of the Chinese aircraft now in use in Pakistan would need replacement soon and the government had decided that sharing technology with China would be preferable to buying more aircraft. He said the bulk of these aircraft, three out of four, would go to China.

This explanation, however, does not satisfy India. Reports in the Indian media, quoting defense experts, say the JF-17s can be used to deliver nuclear weapons. The reports cited Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's remarks, during Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao's visit to the country last month, that Pakistan wanted to keep a minimum level of conventional and unconventional defensive deterrence. In New Delhi, this was interpreted that the JF-17 could be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

During the visit, Wen assured Musharraf China would help defend Pakistan's "sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity." In India, this was interpreted as meaning while China wants to improve its relations with New Delhi, it will continue its decades-long close defense and strategic ties with Pakistan.

Other Indian experts, such as Ashutosh Mishra of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi told reporters there was no reason to fear the JF-17s. He said these are slightly improved versions of the F-7 aircraft, which were equivalent to India's Russia-made MiG-21s, Pakistan now needs to phase out. India's Mig-21s have been replaced by newer versions.

The joint China-Pakistan venture first began in the late 1990s when Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif still ruled Pakistan. The aircraft was first called Super-7, then renamed FC-1 in 2001 and are now being produced as JF-17.

The planes are being built at Kamra, a cantonment located between Islamabad and the northwestern city of Peshawar at the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, an organ of the Pakistan Ministry of Defense.

China's Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corp. is also assisting Kamra in developing a new jet trainer known as Karakorum-8, or K-8.

Traditionally, Pakistan had depended on the United States for its weapon requirements, but when in 1990 the United States stopped all arms sales to Pakistan following a dispute over its nuclear program, Islamabad began to look at other options.

The sanctions grounded the F-16 aircraft Pakistan had purchased from Washington in the 1980s. Other mid-tech aircraft, such as F-6s, F-7s, A-5s and Mirages that Pakistan bought from other sources were aging and needed to be replaced. So in February 1992, Pakistan negotiated a deal with the China Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp., which had invited the Pakistan Air Force to invest in the Super-7 program in return for full participation in design and development, with exclusive co-production rights of up to 59 percent of the Super-7 airframe. The air force received Islamabad's approval in October 1994.

JF-17 is a lightweight, multirole, day-night, all-weather fighter with maximum takeoff weight of 2,700 kilograms, maximum speed 1.7 M, ceiling 16,500 meters, max weapon load 3,900 kilograms, range 3,000 kilograms. It would be equipped with a Russian engine, probably RD-33, that powers the MiG-29.

The Pakistani version would carry a European avionics suite that includes multimode Pulse Doppler radar, inertial navigation system and multi-function displays. Pakistan says it will fulfill 70 percent of its air force's operational requirements.

The JF-17 is designed to be fitted with a vast array of weaponry. Weapon load includes short- and medium-range anti-air missiles like AIM-9P/PL-9/Magic 2 and PL-11/Aspide/AIM-7E. In addition it includes new fly-by-wire flight control system and a true beyond visual range attack capability.

More important for Pakistan is that it will train the nation's engineers and mechanics in the art of aircraft making.

The first flight of the aircraft took place Sept. 04, 2003, and after flight testing, the Pakistan Air Force decided to start serial production. PAF plans to buy about 150 aircraft. China plans to acquire 250 aircraft.

Pakistani officials said they also intend to sell the JF-17 to other countries interested in mid-tech aircraft.

While briefing journalists at Kamra Monday, Air Vice Marshal Shahid Latif, the chief project director for the JF-17, denied media reports Russia had cancelled an agreement with China to provide engines for the aircraft. He said China continued to receive the engines and the supply will continue in the near future.

He said the JF-17 was a lightweight aircraft that can be refueled in the air.

"The JF-17 is strategically very important for our air force and it also has far-reaching implications both for the national defense and economic prosperity," he said.

He said under the agreement between the two countries, half the fighters would be produced on an assembly line in China while the other half would be made in Pakistan.

U.S. defense experts told London's Financial Times the JF-17 was no threat to the United States.

"If you want hundreds of planes to look size a sizable air force, it comes in handy," Richard Aboulafia, aviation analyst at the Teal Group, told the paper. "It does not come in handy in any other circumstances. If you put it head to head against an F-16 it would probably last about 5 seconds."

Michael O'Hanlon, defense analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the United States was less concerned with fighter jets produced by China.

"These are a couple of middle-range technological powers," said O'Hanlon to the newspaper. "I worry a lot more about Soviet-era MiGs and Su-27s and Israeli command and control and any help with their pilot training."


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:10 AM


The New Strategery: Why America needs new allies
The year is 2007. Iran explodes its first nuclear device. Its missiles can now reach Paris and London. In response, Europe does nothing; in its customary fashion, it tries to buy peace. Now that Iran is invulnerable to attack, it begins to push more aggressively against Israel and its Muslim enemies. Iran's Shiites hate Sunni Muslims even more than Christians, Jews and Western atheists. The Muslim world is therefore divided.

Iran's nukes now raise the threat of terrorism even higher. Many Muslim nations in the Middle East have employed terrorist proxies against their enemies. It has been a standard tactic for centuries, and it will be used again. Iran's terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, is the largest and best-trained terrorist force in the world. Iran is also in a good position to squeeze Europe for money, advanced arms and anti-American gambits at the UN.

The Saudis now fear that Iran is stirring up trouble among the Shiites who comprise the majority population in its oil regions. Saudi Arabia goes into high gear to get its own nuclear weapons and missiles in alliance with Egypt. They could buy those arms straight from North Korea. Estimated time: one or two years.

Now that the Middle East is going nuclear, China begins making overt moves against Taiwan. The last time that happened, in the 1990s, the US 7th Fleet was interposed in the Taiwan Straits, but that is a very high-risk strategy in the face of Chinese anti-ship missiles. The United States is now faced with two looming threats, one in the Middle East and the other in the Pacific.

Who can America rely on? For the first time since 1914, Britain will not be our ally. Tony Blair has succeeded in selling the EU Constitution to his voters, giving France and Germany a veto over all British security decisions. The French have finally succeeded in splitting "les Anglo-Saxons." Europe is in complete denial and calls it sanity.

This scenario may well play out two years from today. If it does, the US will have to find new allies. In the Middle East, Israel is a friend, but it is locked in its own life and death struggle. Iran will not attack Israel directly because the Israelis have nuclear-armed subs, giving them a second-strike retaliatory capacity. They have many more nuclear devices than Iran does. Nothing focuses the mind so much as the prospect of hanging, a rule that applies even to the mullahs of Iran. But the US cannot become too closely identified with Israel. There are no other regional allies with much military clout. The United States will have to look elsewhere.

The Free World alliance of the 21st century will ignore NATO, which is now completely undermined by the French and Germans. Instead, look for three countries to form the core of allied defense:

1. Japan has a vital interest in protecting its oil lifeline from the Middle East, and a close relationship with the US. It is even now beginning to dedicate part of its formidable technology base to anti-missile defenses, in cooperation with the US. Japan has an historic fear of China and Korea. It must also protect its oil supply and export markets through naval strength. Its naval forces can cooperate with the US 7th Fleet to keep the balance of power in the Taiwan Straits.

2. India, as a majority Hindu nation, has a natural interest in containing the spread of nuclear weapons in the hands of radical Islamists. It has long suffered vicious terrorist assaults from Pakistan, and has reason to be suspicious of China. Culturally India is a natural ally of English-speaking nations, since English is its own lingua franca. It is the largest democracy in the world. Its people are talented and self-confident. India is a natural member of the new Free World alliance.

3. Australia is a good friend and ally, but does not have a big enough population to support sizable armed forces. Yet it has an important strategic position, and has been showing increasing awareness of security threats in East Asia.

Here are some predictions.

First: In two years, we will see a new military alliance emerging in Asia.
It will combine Japan, India and Australia with the United States. The new democratic alliance will have four strategic goals: To protect the flow of oil from the Middle East, preserve free commerce on the high seas, keep China at bay, and hold down the lid on Islamic terrorism in East Asia.

Second: A more dangerous Middle East will result in a re-arrangement of alliances there. The US will organize a coalition of Arab nations who feel threatened by Iran. We will propose a new NATO-like treaty for Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Iraq, backed by a promise of massive retaliation against Iranian nuclear attack. We will aim to apply a containment strategy against Iranian aggression, and accelerate development of a variety of anti-missile defenses.

Europe will play both ends against the middle. Given its rising Muslim immigration, it will increasingly become a different place: Euro-Arabia.
European democracy is already under assault from within, from the European Union itself. Over time, it will become increasingly impotent and stagnant. The European Union has the resources to defend itself, but it lacks the will to do so. Ideologically it will therefore increasingly yield to Islamofascism, as it is doing even today. Many ethnic Europeans will leave for other continents, just as many Dutch citizens are doing even now.

Like the Cold War, the coming time of nuclear threat will be as much ideological as military. The Free World organized an effective ideological defense against Communist regimes. We will have to do as much intellectually to defend against the totalitarians of nuclear Islam. Like the Soviet Union, the greatest weakness of Islamic fascism is internal, coming from the free internet, satellite radio and television, and even cellphones, driven by the universal human yearning for freedom. With Europe out of the picture, the greatest burden of defending enlightened values will be on our shoulders.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:09 AM


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