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.
 
 
Analysts differ on US F-16 sales to India, Pakistan
A former State Department official has criticised the US decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan while another South Asia expert says Indians found Secretary of State Condeleezza Rice "ill informed" about their country.

"Regionally, I think it is not wise to fuel an arms race. All things considered I would not have approved a sale of F-16s to Pakistan," said Dennis Kux, author of several books on India and Pakistan and a former State Department official.

"It is understandable the administration did what it did. But I wouldn't have," he added.

According to Professor Ainslie Embree, who was advisor to former US ambassador to India Frank Wisner, the Bush administration was trying to satisfy both India and Pakistan.

This, he contended, was "an impossible ideal and I suspect that they don't really care as much about either as they pretend".

Embree, who was in India when Rice visited the region, said: "Despite the American reporting, Rice did not impress people I have talked to. They found her curiously ill-informed about India and remarkably patronising."

Professor Stephen Philip Cohen of the Brookings Institution, however, supported the decision to sell F-16s to Pakistan and to India. Officials in New Delhi have indicated they may not go for the American planes.

Cohen said the sale should be "on condition that we use the leverage to get good things done. Particularly with Pakistan, the sale should be based on excellent performance on nuclear and terrorism issues".

He added: "With India it is a long-term strategic relationship. Clearly this is a break from the past, not because of any problem in India but rather it was mainly a problem with bureaucracy.

"Now the administration has recognised India is a responsible nuclear country, so also Pakistan."

Kux went on to say that trying to sell the same fighter aircraft to both India and Pakistan was "walking both sides of the street at the same time".

"Indeed they are doing what they said - separating the two - a Pakistan policy - rewarding Pakistan for its help. And an India policy - to work to have a broader based relationship with a rising power."

He contended that in contrast to the time last year when Washington without warning declared Pakistan a "non-NATO ally" much to India's surprise and dismay, this time around the F-16 sales to Pakistan were discussed beforehand with New Delhi.

From the Indian perspective, Kux noted, the sale to Pakistan was offset with the US promise to open up military exchanges and technology with India.

Referring to media reports that Washington had indicated it would help India with civilian nuclear plants technology, he said: "I don't think that ... is accurate. I think there are legal limits to what the US can do. I think it was sloppy reporting.

"The administration really wants to broaden and continue relations with India quite apart from Pakistan," he said.



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 11:19 AM

 

Sino-Indian Relations: Perspectives, Prospects and Challenges Ahead
April 2005 marks the 55th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and India. It is a major milestone for the two ancient civilizations, neighbors, and rising powers. Over the past five and half decades, the bilateral relationship has witnessed the warm "Hindi-Chini bhai-bhai" brotherhood and the famous Panch Sheel or the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence in the 1950s but has also been overshadowed by the 1962 border war and the acrimonious spat in the wake of India's May 1998 nuclear tests.

Sino-Indian relations today are enjoying a period of stability and growing economic ties. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's forthcoming visit to India between April 9-12 will build on the positive momentum generated by the June 2003 visit by the then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. However, there remain unresolved disputes and emerging conflicts between the two countries -- ranging from boundary issues to energy security -- that require strategic vision, diplomatic skill and mutual accommodation.

Rebuilding the Bilateral Relationship after the Pokhran II Nuclear Tests

Beijing reacted strongly to New Delhi's accusation that the Chinese threat was the key rationale behind its May 1998 nuclear tests. China retaliated by canceling the scheduled Joint Working Group meeting on boundary issues and played an active role in pushing through United Nations Security Council Resolution 1172 calling for nuclear rollback in India and Pakistan. Beijing's relentless diplomatic campaigns to isolate New Delhi eventually induced the latter to seek rapprochement. Sino-Indian relations gradually thawed and Indian policymakers publicly retracted from the China threat rhetoric.

In May 1999, Kashmiri militants, with the support of the Pakistani military, crossed the Line of Control into the Kargil area in the India-controlled state of Jammu and Kashmir. The Indian army launched military operations seeking to repel the intrusion. As the conflict escalated, threatening a major military confrontation between the two nuclear states, both New Delhi and Islamabad were seeking international support. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz went to Beijing soon after the crisis broke out and sought to secure Chinese support; however, their requests were turned down. Instead, the Chinese leaders advised the Pakistani visitors to seek a peaceful settlement with India. Indian Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh subsequently visited China in June 1999 as the Kargil crisis reached the boiling point.

International pressure on Pakistan, including unequivocal warnings by the Clinton administration to Sharif, eventually brought the crisis to an end in July. China's apparent neutrality in the dispute gained much appreciation from India. The two sides have since then on many occasions publicly announced that they do not view each other as a security threat. Improvement in the bilateral relationship continued with Indian President K.R. Narayanan's visit to China in May 2000 to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-Indian diplomatic relations. Chinese parliamentary head Li Peng and Premier Zhu Rongji visited India in January 2001 and 2002, respectively, further consolidating the bilateral relationship.

Of all the key events over the past few years, perhaps the most important would be Indian Defense Minister George Fernandes' week-long visit to China in April 2003 and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee's June 2003 visit. The former was more symbolic while the latter ushered in important milestones. Fernandes' China trip was significant in three respects. First, the visit was the first by an Indian defense minister to China in over a decade. Second, the visit, coming from someone who five years earlier had been widely quoted by the media as describing China as India's "security threat number one" just prior to the Indian nuclear tests, signified just how much the two countries had mended their fences. Third, at a time when China was embroiled in the crisis over S.A.R.S. and when many international events originally scheduled to be taking place in China had been canceled, Fernandes' visit was much appreciated by his Chinese hosts.

While no major breakthrough was achieved during Vajpayee's visit -- and indeed no such expectation had ever been entertained -- there was nevertheless significant progress in four areas that deserve closer scrutiny. The first is the growing consensus and converging interests between Beijing and New Delhi over a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues. The two countries issued a joint declaration on principles for relations and comprehensive cooperation and vowed not to view each other as a security threat. They reaffirmed their determination to resolve their disputes through peaceful means. This is a far cry from the suspicions and hostility between the two Asian powers in the wake of India's May 1998 nuclear tests.

This stabilizing and maturing relationship is clearly marked by the two countries' converging interests in developing a fair, equitable international political and economic order, the role for the United Nations, and support of global disarmament, including efforts to prevent the weaponization of outer space. Beijing and New Delhi are seeking to promote greater equality and fair distribution of wealth between the rich and poor by working to improve the current international economic system. As developing countries, both China and India are interested in gradually integrating their economies into the global trading system in ways that provide the necessary protection and transition time for their industries to adjust; in addition, Beijing and New Delhi are also calling for greater economic assistance from the northern industrialized countries to the vast majority of developing countries in the South.

Likewise, both are critical of U.S. unilateralism and seek to promote a multipolar world where they can play a more important role in global affairs. India is looking forward to securing a seat in the proposed expansion of the U.N. Security Council, to which aspiration China has already indicated its support. India has long championed for nuclear disarmament, a goal shared by China. Beijing and New Delhi are also interested in promoting the peaceful use of outer space as both are developing their emerging civilian space programs. Weaponization of outer space could well put into jeopardy these programs, threaten existing peaceful use such as environmental monitoring and weather forecasting, and risks inducing an arms race in this new frontier.

Second, by each appointing a special representative to oversee the political framework of border negotiations, the two countries have clearly demonstrated their determination to speed up the process of resolving the territorial disputes. This reflects a consensus reached by Chinese and Indian leaders that to reach the full potential of bilateral relations requires the satisfactory closure of this issue. So far, four rounds of meetings have already been held and the change of government in India has not affected the process.

Third, China and India have made important -- although largely token -- gestures toward each other. New Delhi has shown greater appreciation of Beijing's sensitivity over the Tibetan issue by affirming for the first time that the Tibetan Autonomous Region is part of the territory of China. Beijing, on the other hand, has extended de facto recognition of Sikkim being a state of India, something that Beijing had refused to do ever since the small Himalayan kingdom acceded to India in 1975. While Chinese diplomats continue to characterize the issue as a historical legacy that takes time to resolve, the fact that official Chinese maps are showing Sikkim as part of India suggests that Beijing considers the issue closed. Indeed, New Delhi is confident that the de jure recognition will not be long in forthcoming.

Finally, Vajpayee's visit was marked by its economic orientation. A large entourage of Indian business executives accompanied the Indian prime minister; further, of Vajpayee's three important speeches delivered during his visit, two were addressed at business venues. Indeed, bilateral trade grew to $7.6 billion annually by 2003 and is projected to reach $10 billion in 2004 and surpass $15 billion by 2007, if not earlier. That target may be achieved earlier as the bilateral two-way trade already reached $13 billion in 2004, surpassing the original goals by over 30 percent. A Sino-Indian Joint Study Group on Trade and Economic Cooperation was formed in March 2004. In addition to growing bilateral economic ties, the two countries are also active in exploring potentials for regional economic cooperation, including the sub-regional "Kunming Initiative."

The momentum generated by the Vajpayee visit has continued. There have been more high-level exchanges between the two countries, with the Chinese defense minister visiting India last, the first in almost a decade, and the first joint Indian-Chinese naval exercises. India's chief of army staff also visited China in late 2004 and the commander of the Indian 4th Army Corp, the unit that was involved in the 1962 war and is now stationed in the areas along the Line of Actual Control, paid a visit to the Tibet Military District Command in Lhasa.

Rivalry or Partnership: Challenges Ahead

The coming months and years will testify if the good will and momentum generated by Vajpayee's successful June 2003 visit can be maintained. While the two countries are on good terms for now and, indeed, their domestic priorities -- economic development and prosperity -- provide strong incentives for them to avoid conflict, obstacles remain and sustained efforts at the highest political level are required to steer the ship of bilateral relationships without hitting any major shoals. These include the intractable territorial disputes, even though the Line of Actual Control has been relatively peaceful over the last 40 years; mutual suspicions and the potentials for competition and rivalry; China's relationship with Pakistan in the regional context; the China-India-U.S. strategic triangle; India's eastward diplomacy; and the emerging energy security issue and potential trade disputes.

Despite the generally benign atmosphere between the two countries, there remain lingering suspicion and distrust; the scar of the 1962 war has yet to be healed. India claims the Chinese-controlled Aksai Chin of approximately 35,000 square kilometers as part of the territory in Ladaakh, Kashmir. Beijing, on the other hand, disputes New Delhi's possession of over 90,000 square kilometers in what is now the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh. Without a satisfactory resolution of the territorial disputes, there can never be a "full and complete" normalization of bilateral relations. Since the early 1980s, eight rounds of border negotiations and 14 rounds of Joint Working Group meetings have taken place. During Vajpayee's visit to China in June 2003, the two governments designated their respective special representatives to provide the political impetus to the process. Four rounds of meetings have been held so far. However, a solution remains elusive due to fundamental differences over the mechanisms of settlement. Clearly, final resolution of the issue requires not only political decisions at the highest level in both capitals but also the political skills to sell it to their respective domestic constituencies.

A stable Sino-Indian relationship requires the effective management of the delicate China-India-Pakistan triangle. For over forty years, and specifically in the wake of the 1962 China-India war, Beijing and Islamabad have developed a close political-security relationship. Over the years, China has provided both moral and material support in assisting the latter's rivalry with India. This "all weather" relationship was a key component of China's South Asia policy as Beijing sought to tie down India and extend its influence to the subcontinent. Since the early 1980s, as China and India embarked on the path of normalization, Beijing has shifted to a policy of balance and made greater efforts to address New Delhi's legitimate concerns over Sino-Pakistani ties, in particular in the defense area.

While China's neutrality during the 1999 Kargil crisis demonstrates a more balanced Chinese South Asia policy, that gesture has yet to translate into good will and confidence on India's part that the Sino-Pakistani relationship is not targeted at India. Indeed, Sino-Pakistani ties, in particular in the security area, remain a serious concern to India as reports suggest continued Chinese missile assistance to Pakistan. New Delhi remains suspicious of the Sino-Pakistani relationship and their resilient security ties, ranging from the construction of a strategic outlet for Pakistan in the Gwadar Port and continuous supplies of military equipment, reinforces the specter of strategic encirclement of India. While China's continuing support of Pakistan is partly due to containing India, it is also aimed at maintaining a stable relationship with an important Islamic country -- and a nuclear weapons state -- and therefore retains its influence over the government in Islamabad out of concerns over the Islamic unrest in its own territory, especially in Xinjiang.

Despite progress in bilateral relations over the past few years, mutual suspicions remain. Partly this is due to the dynamics of the security dilemma and structural conflicts between the two Asian giants; it is also because of the lack of institutionalized and regular high-level official exchanges. India has watched China's phenomenal growth in the economic and military sectors with both envy and alarm. Beijing's defense budgets have grown at double digits over a decade and Chinese acquisitions of advanced weaponry from Russia has resulted in improved aerial and naval capabilities of the two-million strong People's Liberation Army.

In addition, China is also modernizing its strategic nuclear forces. If there is one single lesson that New Delhi's security analysts have drawn from the 1962 war, it would be this: power and strength are the only ticket to the club of great powers. For many of them, the very fact that China continues to lead India on many indicators of power poses a greater threat than its military defeat 40 years ago. China is also paying close attention to India's growing military power and its nuclear and missile development. New Delhi is purchasing advanced Russian fighter aircraft, submarines and an aircraft carrier. In addition, India is expanding its defense contacts with Israel and has acquired the Phalcon early warning system that was denied to China. Jerusalem's proposed sale of the Phalcon system to China was effectively blocked by Washington in 2000 out of concerns over its use by the Chinese military against U.S. interests in the region, especially around the Taiwan Strait.

Chinese security analysts are also debating the significance and implications of a warming U.S.-India relationship. Prior to September 11, there were growing concerns that the new and growing ties between Washington and New Delhi could have negative security implications for China, especially the apparent attempt by Washington to enlist New Delhi as a potential counterweight, if not part of a containment strategy, against China. Within this context, the growing security ties, including U.S. military sales to India, joint military exercises, and regular defense consultations between the two are of particular concern to China. Washington and New Delhi were drawing closer to each other than ever before. There were regular high-level visits to each capital, and the Bush administration briefed the B.J.P.-led government on major policy initiatives, treating India almost as an ally. New Delhi, in return, openly endorsed U.S. missile defense positions. Indeed, even many U.S. allies were concerned with the strategic implications of Washington's decisions.

Washington's current focus on combating global terrorism and the post-September 11 policy shift brought a renewed engagement of Pakistan and an emphasis on great power cooperation; this reduced Beijing's worries about an Indo-U.S. entente against China. But a China-India-U.S. strategic triangle has clearly emerged in that policymakers are increasingly aware of and attentive to policies taken in the other two capitals and how these may affect its own security interests. Within this complex structure, Washington and New Delhi share normative values (democracy) and strategic interests while Beijing's ties with both are more driven by contingent rather than structural interests.

Beijing is wary of New Delhi's eastward strategy of developing greater economic and military ties with Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (A.S.E.A.N.). India has in recent years launched a new post-Pokhran offensive diplomacy of engagement and entente with countries beyond New Delhi's traditional strategic domain: Japan, Vietnam and, to a broader extent, members of A.S.E.A.N., many of which have ongoing disputes with China. The Indian defense minister visited Japan in January 2000, the first such visit since India gained independence. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori visited India in August 2000 and Vajpayee paid an official visit to Japan in February 2001. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's upcoming visit to India this month will further consolidate such ties.

India has also broadened its relationship with A.S.E.A.N. countries and improved relations with Myanmar. Chinese analysts note that New Delhi's Southeast Asia diplomacy could add complexity to China-A.S.E.A.N. relations. For example, growing Indian and A.S.E.A.N. naval cooperation could impinge upon China's maritime interests, making a final resolution of the territorial disputes in the South China Sea even more difficult. The Indo-Vietnamese defense cooperation is viewed with suspicion given that China has unresolved territorial issues with both countries.

China-India trade has experienced significant gains in the last few years, totaling $13 billion in 2004. However, given the sizes of both economies, the level of economic interdependence remains low. Both countries have registered significant growth over the last decade. There is intense competition for, and protectionism against, each other in the areas of foreign direct investment (F.D.I.) and market access. China is now in a comfortable lead, with $60 billion F.D.I. -- twelve times India's total -- in 2004. While leaders in both countries have touted the complementarities of their industries -- India's software and China's hardware -- they have yet to make significant investments in each other's economy. How to promote and expand greater economic contacts and manage competition for markets and investment and technology imports would also test the leadership skills and entrepreneurship in both countries so that their projected growth could both benefit from and generate more win-win cooperation instead of falling into the trap of zero-sum games.

Finally, India and China are both energy consumers and importers. A net oil importer since 1993, China today is the number two oil consumer after the United States, depending on imports for two-thirds of its total consumption. While ranking sixth in the global petroleum demand, India's fast growing economy and its lack of domestic energy sources means that it is bound to move up the imports' ladder, projected to occupy the fourth place by 2010. On energy security issues, the two could compete as well as cooperate. Indian and Chinese oil companies are already involved in overseas oil field exploitation, extractions and acquisitions from the Middle East, to the Persian Gulf, to Latin America. An uncoordinated competition from the world's most energy-thirsty countries could drive up prices and rivalry in yet another field.

Beijing and New Delhi would both do well in working with each other to find energy security. Already the two countries are seeking to cooperate rather than to compete directly with each other since the latter strategy is bound to drive up oil prices. India hosted the first-ever meeting between major Asian oil importing countries, including China, and the Middle Eastern oil exporting countries such as Saudi Arabia. Chinese and Indian oil companies have acquired equity stakes in Iran's Yadavaran oil field. In addition, China and India are also discussing a potential natural gas pipeline.

Conclusion

The Sino-Indian relationship is bound to be one of the most important bilateral relationships in the coming decades simply by the sheer weight of numbers: combined they represent 40 percent of the world's population and their continuing economic growth will project them to the second and third place within the next two decades. How they manage their relationship will have a tremendous impact on peace and stability in the regional and, increasingly, global context.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:12 AM

 

Delhi missing the point
The sale of F-16 fighters to Pakistan by the US should come as no surprise to India. The deal had already been finalized in the 1980s, only to be blocked in 1990 by the US administration because of Pakistan's nuclear ambitions. Last year, the remaining sanctions on India were lifted by the government of President George W Bush in view of the country's growing economic presence in the world. Similarly, India should have expected conciliatory moves from the US toward Pakistan after it literally allowed the US to dictate its foreign policy since September 11, 2001.

So when Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed "great disappointment" at the F-16 deal, it pointed at another incidence where Indian diplomacy has failed to foresee a rather obvious event.

On her recent visit to India, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, "What we're trying to do is break out of the notion that this is a hyphenated relationship somehow, that anything that happens that's good for Pakistan has to be bad for India, and vice versa." India's vehement and open opposition to this deal and the dejected expression that followed it will only pour cold water on the country's aspirations not to be equated with Pakistan in most geopolitical discussions pertaining to South Asia. India looks on itself as a rising regional, and possibly global, economic and military power, yet an indifferent attitude to this deal would have gone a longer way to bolster that image than the sniffles of a child who didn't get his cookie.

There are reasons to believe that this deal would do little to alter the strategic balance in the subcontinent. First, as a US State Department official put it, India had been contemplating a "very large" purchase of fighters long before this deal was sanctioned. Models in the race include French Mirage 2000-5s, Swedish JAS-39 Gripens and Russian MiG-29s. Thanks to the recent announcement by the US, India can also add F-16s and F-18s to this list.

Lockheed Martin has also gone a step beyond and confirmed that it will be willing to upgrade the F-16s to Block 70 levels, especially catering to the particular needs of India, very much as the Russians did with the Su-30. Moreover, even without this new purchase, India already operates fighters at par with if not superior to the F-16 Block 52 being offered to Pakistan, the MiG-29, Mirage 2000 and Su-30MKI. It does not appear that a few dozen F-16s will change the entire dimension in favor of Pakistan.

Second, although India has constantly denied that it wants to get sapped into an arms race, indulging in one would not necessarily be bad for the long-term interests of the country. After all, one of the reasons the Soviet economy never reached the levels of the US was the massive amount it spent on military hardware. India can do the same - draw Pakistan into an arms race by making some big purchases. Owing to nationalist pressures, Islamabad will be forced to do what it can to match India's rapidly growing capabilities. The defense-spending ratio already stands at 5:1 in favor of India - Pakistan would not feel safe to let it slip further.

Once the Pakistani economy was under pressure owing to this race, India could push for economic concessions, such as a South Asian free-trade area, a policy long torpedoed by Pakistan owing to fears of Indian competition. With less money at its disposal to fund infrastructure projects or invest in the economy to create jobs, Pakistan may have no choice but to sign a trade accord and let Indian companies provide jobs to its economy.

Third, India should remember that "friends are not permanent, interests are". Pakistan has been favored by the US for the past half a century or so for valid strategic reasons. During the Cold War, it acted as a deterrent to a pro-Soviet India. During the Afghan war, it helped the US and the mujahideen throw the Russians out of the country. After September 11, 2001, President General Pervez Musharraf went out of his way to help in the "war on terror". Even after being exposed to life-threatening attacks by extremists in his country, he has cooperated with the coalition forces in whatever way he can. It is still not clear whether India definitely wants to join the US camp - so why shouldn't the US have an "insurance" partner in Pakistan in the region? It makes sense to the strategists at the Pentagon.

What India needs to do is make itself more attractive as a partner than Pakistan. India's obvious advantage lies in its rapidly growing and very large economy. India needs to liberalize quicker and give foreign firms (especially US firms) incentives to invest in India, beyond software and information-technology services. A preferential trade agreement between the US and India would open up huge avenues for businesses on both sides.

Once India made its presence felt in the business lobbies in the United States, its weight as an ally would decisively shift vis-a-vis Pakistan. To put things in context, US-India trade in 2003-04 hovered around the US$20 billion figure, compared with a nearly $300 billion figure for US-China trade. The US attitude toward Taiwan has been affected directly as a result. These days the Pentagon often issues restraining calls on Taiwan, and is surprisingly quiet on China's harsh labor regulations since US companies might be affected as a result. A booming bilateral trade between India and the US would not only be beneficial for a large number of Indians, but would also help the country establish itself as a firm US ally in the region, and ensure US support or neutrality in any future disputes with Pakistan.

As has so often been the case, the Indian media are sounding alarm bells even before the planes have been transferred to Pakistan. They will probably be delivered in batches, with the entire fleet being handed over probably within the next five years or so. Also, what is evident is that amid all this apparent disappointment and protest, there remains an inferiority complex in the Indian press. What India needs to do is stop crying over spillled milk, and make the most of the good options it has with Uncle Sam.



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:07 AM

 

India's $750M snub to U.S. F-16 sale
India has wasted no time in beefing up its armory after the United States sanctioned the sale of F-16 fighter jets to neighboring Pakistan.

Peeved at Washington's decision to sell the fighter jets in its neighborhood, New Delhi on Tuesday evening OK'd defense acquisitions and upgrades worth $750 million.

India's cabinet committee on security has approved the price negotiations with Qatar for 12 used French-made Mirage 2005 fighters that have 80 percent to 85 percent of their operational life intact, Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee said.

The meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, also approved buying nine offshore patrol vessels for the navy, purchasing a C-303 submarine-fired torpedo decoy system from Italy, and upgrading 14 aircraft-carrier-based Sea Harrier planes of British-make. The Harriers would be equipped with Israeli made air-to-air missiles.

India's defense purchases are part of its enhanced defense budget earlier this year.

All of India's defense orders are with Russia, Italy, Germany, Israel and Qatar. In a clear snub to Washington, no defense equipment was ordered from any U.S.-based suppliers.

While Pakistan had been craving F-16 jets for a long time, India had successfully stalled the delivery of the jets to its arch-rival neighbor. Despite an assurance by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during her visit earlier this month to New Delhi that the United States would not sell planes to Pakistan, Washington last week doled out the jets to Islamabad, its partner in fighting a "war on terror" in Afghanistan.

The U.S. largesse came almost 15 years after sanctions were imposed on Pakistan for its nuclear ambitions that turned out to be true in 1998.

The decision to sell warplanes to Pakistan is part of a five-year, $3 billion U.S. assistance package. To placate India, the United States also offered F-18 jets to New Delhi, a proposal India is considering.

India said earlier this week that the F-16 sale to Pakistan would fuel the arms race in the nuclear-capable subcontinent. Even the Communist allies of India's ruling combine and opposition Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party slammed Washington's decision.

BJP leader and India's former Foreign and Defense Minister Jaswant Singh said the U.S.-Pakistan F-16 agreement was held in abeyance "principally on the grounds of WMD proliferation and terrorism promotion" by Pakistan. The U.S. should now elaborate on the "improvements demonstrated by Pakistan," he said.

Singh also blasted the U.S. offer to India to acquire F-18 jets. "It is a strange proposition and we find it patronizing. We are not in a queue for alms."

Islamabad has rejected India's claim, saying the jets would help maintain military balance in the region. The United States on Tuesday tried again to placate India by dispelling apprehensions that the sale of F-16 fighter aircraft to Pakistan would vitiate the India-Pakistan peace process and upset the region's military balance.

U.S. Ambassador to India David C Mulford told reporters that Washington's decision to participate in New Delhi's proposal to acquire 126 multi-role fighter jets was "important."

Reacting to Mukherjee's statement that the sale of F-16s to Islamabad would affect the peace process, Mulford said: "I don't see why it should. The balance of power will not be disturbed by the U.S. proposal to sell F-16s to Pakistan. India has fighter airplanes in quite a number."

"Just when the subcontinent was toning down its war rhetoric and the general across the border was making dove-like noises, albeit from a hawk-like stance, the United States has stepped in and shot down the peace overtures mid-tune," the Indian Express commented.

The American media has also joined the debate in bashing Bush administration's decision.

The New York Times said in an editorial, "The worst thing for these two nuclear powers (India, Pakistan), which have fought three wars against each other since 1947, is to encourage them to engage in a new, American-fueled arms race."

"Decades of swollen military budgets have virtually bankrupted Pakistan, leaving its government unable to afford adequate spending on education and job-creating economic modernization," the Times said in the same piece.

"The United States does have a compelling strategic interest in helping Pakistan. But the right kind of help does not consist of selling Pakistan's armed forces, led by the country's military dictator, President Pervez Musharraf, prestigious, expensive and dangerous weapons systems."

"Decades of swollen military budgets have virtually bankrupted Pakistan, leaving its government unable to afford adequate spending on education and job-creating economic modernization. Instead, its leaders have fed the Pakistani people a diet of belligerent nationalism and projects like nuclear weapons that are designed to enhance a sense of prestige," the editorial added.

The arms race went into high gear just before Musharraf's April 16 visit to India to watch a cricket game. He is scheduled to hold talks with Indian officials, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:04 AM

 

Why is Bush selling F-16s to Pakistan?
With his decision last week to sell F-16 fighter planes to Pakistan, President Bush returns to a dangerous game of self-deception that hasn't been seen at this level of risk since Richard Nixon was in the White House.

The deal involves a mere couple of dozen F-16s, but it opens up three avenues of great hazard.

First, right after President Bush told the Pakistanis that the sale was on, he called the Indians to assure them he would take a well-disposed look at their weapons wish lists to redress the resulting imbalance. The unfolding dynamic is thus predictable: Pakistan orders still more weapons to compensate for India's new purchase; India buys more to match the ante; and on the ratcheting goes, the tinderbox swelling.

Second, Bush (pending near-certain congressional approval) is lifting a ban on arms transfers to Pakistan that has been in effect since 1989. The restriction was imposed after intelligence clearly revealed that Pakistan was turning its stockpile of enriched uranium into nuclear bombs. The U.S. Foreign Assistance Act forbade the supply of any weapons to countries that crossed this line. So, President George H.W. Bush issued a stop order, halting production of 43 F-16s earmarked for Pakistan (in addition to 40 already delivered), 17 of them paid for in advance. It is this transaction that Bush's son now seeks to resume—even though Pakistan has not only pushed ahead with nuclear weapons but sold the resulting technology to several tinhorn dictators.

Worse still, the latest version of the plane, the F-16C/D—which is the model Pakistan will receive—can carry atomic bombs under its wings. The plane's wiring would have to be modified in order for the bombs to be fused and dropped, but German intelligence agencies reported long ago that the Pakistanis have figured out how to do this. President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have said Pakistan needs the F-16s to combat terrorists in the mountains on the Afghan border. But really it wants them to drop bombs on India in case of another India-Pakistan war. (Pakistan already has two types of missiles that can do this; India has nuclear-capable planes and missiles, as well.)

On a broader level, Rice has justified the sale as a token of U.S. friendship and commitment to Pakistan's security, a reward for its cooperation in the war on terrorism, and an inducement to further progress toward democratic rule. If we ignore Pakistan's request for the planes, Rice has said in interviews, these trends could collapse.

There may be something to this argument, but the Pakistanis are more likely lassoing us than vice versa. President Musharraf is promising elections in 2007, but by that time all the weapons he could want will have been delivered—and whatever leverage we once had will have expired. We will then be trapped in a web of our own weaving. Musharraf will put in an order for resupply or perhaps for more sophisticated weapons, and he'll warn Bush that a refusal will be taken as a betrayal of trust, a blow to our fledgling alliance, a prompt to resume nasty ways (if they were ever repudiated to begin with).

What's really happening is that the question, "Why should we sell arms to a particular country?" has been replaced by, "Why not?" In the case of Pakistan, there's the further consideration that India is determined to buy 125 new fighter jets to replace its fleet of antiquated Soviet-built MiGs; it's looking at the F-16, but also at French-built Mirages. That being the case, selling F-16s to Pakistan can be rationalized as a step to preserve the balance of power. Besides, if Musharraf doesn't buy the planes from us, he can look to the French or the Chinese.

In other words, for all the talking about rewarding friends and maintaining influence, what this really comes down to—what it's always come down to—is money and market share. During the Cold War, the market share was political (if we don't sell planes to Peru, the Russians will); now it's economic (if we don't sell planes to Pakistan, the Chinese will).

U.S. arms sales took off as a potent political and economic force in the early 1970s, when three things happened. First, President Nixon, bruised from Vietnam, declared that America would no longer send troops to every ally in crisis but would instead send arms and teams of military advisers.

Second, oil prices soared, pumping floods of cash into the coffers of OPEC countries, whose leaders decided to lavish some of it on a gigantic military buildup. In May 1973, to accommodate this new market, Nixon used his executive powers to waive a congressional prohibition against the sale of sophisticated weapons to underdeveloped countries.

The third event—underlying the other two—was that America's trade balance showed a net deficit for the first time since 1893. State Department and Pentagon officials started to justify every arms transaction as an act "to strengthen U.S. balance of payments" and create jobs.

As a result of these converging factors, annual U.S. arms sales abroad soared from about $1 billion before Nixon signed the waiver to $11 billion by the time he left office amid the Watergate scandal in 1974. Sales figures have fluttered only slightly, up or down a few billion, ever since.

The current arms deal with Pakistan is fueled, in good part, by the fact that executives at Lockheed Martin have said they'll have to shut down their Fort Worth, Texas, factory unless more F-16 orders come in by October.

Pakistan was one of the few prospective customers that drew serious political resistance. In 1976, the Senate passed an amendment, sponsored by John Glenn and Stuart Symington, barring U.S. economic and military assistance to countries that were importing or exporting nuclear-weapons materials. In 1979, Carter invoked the Glenn-Symington amendment to cut off such assistance to Pakistan, which had been caught smuggling nuclear designs.

Then the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, and Pakistan—with its close ties to the anti-Soviet mujahideen—re-emerged as a potential strategic partner. President Ronald Reagan, who stepped up support of the mujahideen, pushed through an amendment allowing him to resume aid and sales to Pakistan for six years, despite the fact that Pakistan was beginning to enrich uranium. Among the items he let Pakistan buy were F-16 fighter jets. The first planes arrived in January 1983.

In 1985, the Senate passed another amendment, sponsored by Larry Pressler, requiring the president to certify annually that Pakistan did not possess nuclear weapons before he continued to supply them with weapons or aid. In 1989, as the intelligence became clear that Pakistan had turned the enriched uranium into actual weapons, the first President Bush stopped all orders.

In 1995, President Clinton tried to restore some ties to Pakistan, as part of the nascent war on terrorism. He sold the long-undelivered F-16s to other countries and refunded the money—nearly $700 million—to Pakistan. New weapons, though, were still out of the question. Until now.

The decision will raise new doubts about President Bush's declared desire to halt the spread of nuclear weapons—and his still more prominent declaration to judge regimes on the basis of their dedication to freedom. Selling Pakistan nuclear-capable fighter jets is an act at odds with both. By potentially setting in motion a new arms race in southern Asia, it also seems at odds with more traditional notions involving the balance of power.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:00 AM

 

India to spend Rs 3360 crore on defence
India on Tuesday approved 33.6 billion rupees ($768.5 million) of defence spending including the purchase of nine offshore naval patrol boats and the upgrading of Sea Harrier planes, the defence minister said.

Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters the offshore patrol vehicles (OPVs) would cost 10.84 billion rupees, but did not say who the Indian navy would buy these from.

The Sea Harriers would be fitted with the latest radars, air-to-air missiles and digital cockpit video recorders and most of the equipment would come from Israel, he added.

Mukherjee said the cabinet also authorised the defence ministry to start talks to buy 12 used Mirage 2005 aircraft from Qatar. "We will start the price negotiations soon," he told reporters after a meeting of the cabinet panel on security.

India raised its defence spending by 7.8 percent in its annual budget in February to 830 billion rupees in the year to March 2006, up from last year's 770 billion rupees.

It has cited threat perceptions from neighbouring Pakistan and China to justify increasing military spending. All three countries have nuclear weapons.

India has fought three wars with Pakistan and came to the brink of a fourth war in 2002, but has since begun a tentative peace process.

The defence spending decisions made on Tuesday had been expected for some time and appeared unrelated to an announcement last week by Washington that it had decided to sell F-16 fighters to Pakistan, ending a ban imposed in 1990 as a sanction against its nuclear programme.

Washington has also said it is willing to sell planes and the more advanced F-18 Hornet to India.

Among other spending approved by the cabinet on Tuesday was the purchase of C-303 submarine-fired torpedo decoy systems from an Italian company. Mukherjee said the Italian firm would transfer technology to Indian state-run Bharat Dynamics Limited to set up the torpedo decoy systems.

The cabinet also approved the purchase of eleven Dornier 228 aircraft from state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd along with spare engines and ground support systems at a cost of 7.26 billion rupees.



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:56 AM

 

India widens defence purchase network
Even as the US ambassador tried to placate a peeved India by promising superior F-16s to India, the government on Tuesday played hard to get.

In a signal to the US that it has other defence suitors, the cabinet committee on security, parceled out a clutch of defence orders among countries as diverse as Russia, Germany, Italy and Israel. The decision was long awaited but its announcement was timed to register India’s annoyance with the US’ sale of F-16 to Pakistan.

In fact, the government, under attack from the Opposition for letting the F-16s go to Pakistan, made no bones about its feelings. Defence minister Pranab Mukherjee announced the purchase orders at a press conference.

The defence orders cleared included 12 used Mirage 2000 V fighter aircraft from Qatar. Mukherjee said India would start price negotiations soon on these planes. The CCS also cleared acquisition of 11 Dornier 228 aircraft from Germany for maritime surveillance, virtually as a gesture set against the US offer to sell PC-3 Orions to India.

The overall political import of the decisions was clear. India will buy complete propellant facility, induct 9 offshore patrol vessels for the Indian navy, purchase a C-303 submarine fire torpedo decoy system from Italy and manufacture 8 more in India, upgrade British Sea Harriers by Israeli company Rafael, fitting these with latest air-to-air missiles from Israeli firm Raphael, combat manoeuvring flight recorder, and digital cockpit voice recorder.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:54 AM

 

India Eyes Dassault Falcon 900 For Maritime Patrol Capability
After three years of fruitless negotiations for the purchase of U.S. P-3 Orion planes, the Indian Navy has turned to France’s Dassault Aviation to fill its maritime patrol aircraft requirement.

A Dassault delegation last week gave a presentation to Navy officials here on the new Falcon 900 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), which is based on the company’s Falcon business jet, a senior Navy official said.

The presentation comes ahead of the March 19-29 visit to the United States by Adm. Arun Prakash, Indian Navy chief.



Saint Cloud-based Dassault has offered the Falcon 900 MPA for $45 million per plane, an Indian Defence Ministry official said, compared with the $45 million per-plane price tag Lockheed Martin wants for a second-hand P-3C.

The Indian government has been negotiating with the U.S. Navy to buy eight P-3Bs that would be upgraded to the C version. Indian pilots have flight tested P-3Bs and carried out a surveillance mission during an Indo-U.S. naval exercise in southern India last year.

The Indian Navy official said the pilots in their internal report to superiors deemed the aircraft’s performance satisfactory.

The Defence Ministry official, however, said the quality of the defense system is not the only criteria for choosing an aircraft, noting that assurances of spare parts and service support are key considerations.

Indian pilots have not flown the new Falcon 900, but Dassault has offered to allow them to fly the Falcon business plane, the Defence Ministry official said.

A Dassault executive here said the Falcon 900 MPA will be able to fulfill the needs of the Indian Navy, and Dassault will be able to meet the long-term requirements as far as spare parts are concerned.

A Dassault executive in France confirmed a presentation on the Falcon was made to Indian officials.

The Navy has been frantically hunting for maritime surveillance aircraft since two of its Il-38 aircraft crashed in an accident in October 2002. The aging fleet of three Russian-made Il-38 and eight Tu-142 maritime surveillance aircraft must be replaced. A midlife upgrade plan for the Tu-142s is in limbo because of a price dispute with Russian arms export firm Rosoboronexport.

Sources in the Ministry of Defence said the Falcon 900 may be the way to go, as India-U.S. ties have been strained lately over the proposed Iran-India gas pipeline deal.

In addition, the sources said, there is a division among military planners here over the purchase of P-3 Orions because Pakistan has acquired two P-3s, and acquisition of a different maritime surveillance aircraft would be a better choice.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:53 AM

 

Is India falling into the trap of unnecessary obsolete arms race again?
What India and Israel need is an effective missile defense system and not F16s. Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced today that India may consider F16s from Lockheed Corporation. That may be a face saving situation for India that shows that America did not totally ignore Manmohan Singh’s concerns. But fact of the matter is F16s are not what India needs. India’s defense has to match that of China as well as Pakistan combined. In a worst-case scenario, if ever Pakistan and China decide to attack India from the North and West, India must be able to defend itself adequately.

India needs an effective missile defense system like that of Israel. Iran and Pakistan have manufactured innumerable versions of long and medium range missiles with poor navigation systems and accuracies. None of those missiles will ever hit the target accurately. But with nuclear warheads you do not need a lot of accuracy. The nuke loaded missiles have to be destroyed in the enemy territory or before it can reenter the ionosphere. For that India should be requesting effective missile defense systems from America and not F16s. If ever there is a war between India and Pakistan, F16s will be out of operation without appropriate Satellite driven guidance and control in a few hours. It is not F16s, any other aircrafts will perform without any substantial effect.

What Pakistan is worried about is the India’s missile defense system. India has no ambition in Pakistan territory. All that India wants is status quo in the Kashmir Line of Control. If that is the case then missile defense is absolutely essential. If a barrage of Pakistani and Chinese missiles is destroyed in the air, India will win the war provided they do not have adequate missile defense to destroy Indian missiles.

Missile defense systems are complex, never tested unless an actual war takes place and is costly. The defense ministry may be going after another unnecessary arms race involving obsolete hardware. The money should be spent in world-class missile defense systems. The problem is that the moment India will ask for something, Pakistan will follow. America will deliver the same to both. What India then needs is indigenous capabilities that Pakistan cannot duplicate or borrow/buy from another nation. Money will be well spent in space and technology research than chasing Pakistan in an arms race.

The China has realized and Pakistan will soon realize, there is no future war in that part of the world because that will destruction of the whole region and may be the world. The war is in economic prosperity and trade. That is why China wants a Free Trade zone with India!



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:52 AM

 

India moves ahead with MiG-29KUB for the Navy
India will start receiving the first carrier-based MiG-29K multi-role fighters from Russia in 2007, a year ahead of schedule.

The first batch of few MiG-29KUB would be delivered towards the middle of 2007, in time for Indian Navy to train the first batch of its pilots, a top official of Russian Aircraft building Corporation (RSK), the manufacturers of the MiG range of fighters, said.

He said that RSK would deliver Navy's entire order of 16 MiG-29K by 2009. The Russian team is here to finalise the training schedule for the Indian Naval pilots.

While the first batch of naval pilots would be trained in Russia, India is subsequently planning to operate the MiG-29K for training purposes from its shore-based Dabolim airbase in Goa.

Under a Rs 3,256 crore (740 million dollar) deal, signed in January, 2004, Navy is to acquire 12 MiG-29k Single seater combat aircraft and four two-seater MiG-29KUB operational trainers. The deal also includes airborne armaments, maintenance, personnel training, plus the supply of simulators, spare parts and servicing.

The naval version of the MiG-29 is yet to enter service and India would be the launch customer for the multi-role aircraft, which can operate from ski-jump platform. Russian officials said that the fighters would be fully operational by April, 2008, when the Carrier Gorshkov is scheduled to be delivered.



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:51 AM

 

Indian Air Force capable of handling Pakistan’s F16s inclusion: Indian Air Force chief
Indian Air Force is capable of handling Pakistan Air Force without any problem says IAF Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi. The possibilities were there for a long time. American Administration just made it official.

India’s biggest concern from the politicians is not that Pakistan will pose a real danger with these F16s. But the fact that it can derail the peace process and instigate Pakistan’s military to challenge India again.

“Of course, their capabilities will change, and I will have to take that into account. But this offer is not new. Basically, it has been on the cards for a while, it is just that the US State Department has formalised their offer,” Tyagi said.

“We were interested and therefore had requested information from Lockheed-Martin, and now that information should be with us soon. We will wait for it.”

Asked if the IAF was concerned about the new edge the Pakistani Air Force will now have, Tyagi said: “The government has already made its statement on this. The IAF cannot think differently from the government.”

The F-16 will compete with the Swedish JAS-39 Gripen, Russian MiG-29 and French Mirage-2000-5. The procurement of 126 fighters is being seen as a stop-gap for the IAF, considering delays in the LCA Tejas weaponisation programme and the time it will take to produce home-made Sukhoi-30MKIs in Nashik.

The 126 fighters will fill the medium-range multi-role fighter requirement, wedged between the Sukhois at the higher end and LCA Tejas at the lower end.

It will difficult to match India’s homemade Sukhoi-30MKIs. They are far superior planes. India’s Tejas will act as age old Gnat that was famous for creating miracle.



Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:50 AM

 

Is India falling into the trap of unnecessary obsolete arms race again
What India and Israel need is an effective missile defense system and not F16s. Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced today that India may consider F16s from Lockheed Corporation. That may be a face saving situation for India that shows that America did not totally ignore Manmohan Singh’s concerns. But fact of the matter is F16s are not what India needs. India’s defense has to match that of China as well as Pakistan combined. In a worst-case scenario, if ever Pakistan and China decide to attack India from the North and West, India must be able to defend itself adequately.

India needs an effective missile defense system like that of Israel. Iran and Pakistan have manufactured innumerable versions of long and medium range missiles with poor navigation systems and accuracies. None of those missiles will ever hit the target accurately. But with nuclear warheads you do not need a lot of accuracy. The nuke loaded missiles have to be destroyed in the enemy territory or before it can reenter the ionosphere. For that India should be requesting effective missile defense systems from America and not F16s. If ever there is a war between India and Pakistan, F16s will be out of operation without appropriate Satellite driven guidance and control in a few hours. It is not F16s, any other aircrafts will perform without any substantial effect.

What Pakistan is worried about is the India’s missile defense system. India has no ambition in Pakistan territory. All that India wants is status quo in the Kashmir Line of Control. If that is the case then missile defense is absolutely essential. If a barrage of Pakistani and Chinese missiles is destroyed in the air, India will win the war provided they do not have adequate missile defense to destroy Indian missiles.

Missile defense systems are complex, never tested unless an actual war takes place and is costly. The defense ministry may be going after another unnecessary arms race involving obsolete hardware. The money should be spent in world-class missile defense systems. The problem is that the moment India will ask for something, Pakistan will follow. America will deliver the same to both. What India then needs is indigenous capabilities that Pakistan cannot duplicate or borrow/buy from another nation. Money will be well spent in space and technology research than chasing Pakistan in an arms race.

The China has realized and Pakistan will soon realize, there is no future war in that part of the world because that will destruction of the whole region and may be the world. The war is in economic prosperity and trade. That is why China wants a Free Trade zone with India!


Link

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:13 AM

 

Is India falling into the trap of unnecessary obsolete arms race again
What India and Israel need is an effective missile defense system and not F16s. Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee announced today that India may consider F16s from Lockheed Corporation. That may be a face saving situation for India that shows that America did not totally ignore Manmohan Singh’s concerns. But fact of the matter is F16s are not what India needs. India’s defense has to match that of China as well as Pakistan combined. In a worst-case scenario, if ever Pakistan and China decide to attack India from the North and West, India must be able to defend itself adequately.

India needs an effective missile defense system like that of Israel. Iran and Pakistan have manufactured innumerable versions of long and medium range missiles with poor navigation systems and accuracies. None of those missiles will ever hit the target accurately. But with nuclear warheads you do not need a lot of accuracy. The nuke loaded missiles have to be destroyed in the enemy territory or before it can reenter the ionosphere. For that India should be requesting effective missile defense systems from America and not F16s. If ever there is a war between India and Pakistan, F16s will be out of operation without appropriate Satellite driven guidance and control in a few hours. It is not F16s, any other aircrafts will perform without any substantial effect.

What Pakistan is worried about is the India’s missile defense system. India has no ambition in Pakistan territory. All that India wants is status quo in the Kashmir Line of Control. If that is the case then missile defense is absolutely essential. If a barrage of Pakistani and Chinese missiles is destroyed in the air, India will win the war provided they do not have adequate missile defense to destroy Indian missiles.

Missile defense systems are complex, never tested unless an actual war takes place and is costly. The defense ministry may be going after another unnecessary arms race involving obsolete hardware. The money should be spent in world-class missile defense systems. The problem is that the moment India will ask for something, Pakistan will follow. America will deliver the same to both. What India then needs is indigenous capabilities that Pakistan cannot duplicate or borrow/buy from another nation. Money will be well spent in space and technology research than chasing Pakistan in an arms race.

The China has realized and Pakistan will soon realize, there is no future war in that part of the world because that will destruction of the whole region and may be the world. The war is in economic prosperity and trade. That is why China wants a Free Trade zone with India!


Link

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 8:13 AM

 

India Agrees to New Price for Scorpenes
India’s Ministry of Defence, under increasing pressure from the Navy and an ultimatum from the French government, has agreed to buy six Scorpene submarines from France for $4.6 billion — $1.4 billion more than the price tag negotiated in 2002.

Paris-based Armaris blamed the increased cost on prolonged negotiations that invalidated the $3.2 billion price tag agreed in 2002. And France’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) told Shekhar Dutt, India’s permanent defense production secretary, during his late-January visit to Paris that the submarines would be committed to another country if India did not finalize a contract soon, an Indian MoD official said.

An Armaris executive here declined to comment, but noted that a senior-level defense team from company headquarters was here in early March to finalize the new offer for the Scorpene submarines, which will be assembled in India.

The Indian MoD official said the ministry has no choice but to agree to the new price, as the Navy urgently needs the capability the subs will provide and any further delays will mean even higher costs or the loss of the subs altogether.

The official said that the Navy also pressured the government to allocate $100 million from the service’s 2005-06 budget to improve Mazagon Docks so it could build the Scorpenes.

The MoD official said the contract for the six Scorpenes will be signed this year.

In 1997, the MoD approved construction of two types of new-generation submarines under the Project 75 program. Two years later, negotiations for the Scorpene submarines began with Thomson-CSF, which became Thales, which now jointly owns Amaris with French shipyard DCN.

The previous Indian government failed to clear the deal even after the price was finalized in February 2002, said the MoD official, giving no reasons for the delay.

Under the proposed agreement, six Scorpene submarines will be built under license at Mazagon Docks, Mumbai, with technical assistance and equipment from French companies Armaris, DCN and Thales.

The Indian Defence Ministry said nearly 90 percent of the equipment — including the steel, power plant, weapon control systems and other subsystems — will be supplied by the French companies. The official said those firms will take 75 percent of the contract cost and Mazagon Docks will receive 25 percent of the $4.6 billion contract. He said $3.45 billion will cover the technology transfer fee, training of manpower, the royalty fee and the cost of equipment, components and systems, and raw material. Mazagon Docks will get $1.15 billion to cover submarine assembly, fabrication and labor.

An official from Mazagon Docks said March 15 that its submarine-building facility in Mumbai has been unused since 1992 and will require a complete revamp, costing more than $100 million, to build the six Scorpenes.

The first submarine will be delivered by Mazagon Docks 72 months after the contract is signed, and deliveries will be completed in 12 years, the Mazagon Docks official said.

The cost does not include weapons or Air Independent Propulsion systems, the latter of which can be retrofitted for extra cost, if the Navy wishes, the official said.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:48 AM

 

India To Close Multi-Billion Dollar Sub Deal in ‘Days’
India is within days of closing a two-billion-dollar deal under which its navy will buy six French Scorpene submarines, a senior naval official said March 22.

“It is about to get through,” the vice-chief of naval staff Yashwant Prasad told reporters, of the deal aimed at plugging a hole in India’s conventional military capability. “It should be through in the next coming days.”

A source in the prime minister’s office said the deal was on the agenda of the next security cabinet meeting next week.

The deal, which has been on the table for several years, provides for the sale of six Scorpene-class submarines and technology transfer that will allow the subs to be manufactured under license in India.

The “final approval” for the project, under which the Scorpenes will be manufactured at Mazagaon Docks off the western city of Bombay, was discussed when French chief of defense staff General Henri Bentegeat visited here this month, a naval official said.

Once the Scorpene deal gets the go-ahead, it will be at least six years before the first submarine is ready for induction, the official said.

By then, some of the older boats in the country’s fleet of 16 diesel-electric submarines will be up for decommissioning, he added.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:48 AM

 

India To Build Aircraft Carrier to Own Design
India next month will begin building an indigenously designed aircraft carrier that will tap Italian expertise and take eight years to complete, a senior naval officer announced March 22.

The carrier is designed to operate a mix of Russian MiG-29K and Kamov 31 anti-submarine helicopters and the naval variant of India’s light combat aircraft, said Vice Admiral Yashwant Prasad, the vice chief of naval staff.

Construction of the 37,500-ton ship which would carry a maximum of 30 fighter aircraft will start April 11 at Cochin Shipyard in the southern state of Kerala. It will be ready for delivery in 2012, Prasad told reporters in New Delhi.

The 252-meter-long (831 feet) carrier will have a top speed of 28 knots and will carry 160 officers and 1,400 sailors, he added.

It will have two runways with 200-meter-long ski jumps and a landing deck.

The ship will be powered by four gas turbines and will have an endurance of 7,500 nautical miles, making it capable of voyages of more than 45 days at a stretch.

Only five other countries operate aircraft carriers; China, the United States, France, Russia and Britain.

The Indian government sanctioned 32 billion rupees ($700 million) in 2003 for the project, Prasad said.

The vessel was designed by the Indian navy but the technical assistance of Italian firm Fincantieri will be used during construction, Prasad said.

Fincantieri will help Cochin Shipyard integrate the main propulsion system and other specialized tasks, a naval officer said.

The construction of the ship will give the Indian navy the punch it needs to turn it into a “blue water navy,” he added.

The Indian Navy has had two aircraft carriers but it currently operates only the INS Viraat after the INS Vikrant was decommissioned in January 1997.

Last year India signed a 1.5-billion-dollar deal with Russia for a 40,000-ton aircraft carrier, Admiral Gorshkov, which is slated to join the Indian navy in 2008 after a refit.

Prasad said the construction of the Indian ship had been slowed by the non-availability of steel with the specifications required to build an aircraft carrier.

“The project was delayed because there was a problem of procuring the steel from Russia,” he said.

“But now, we have finally got the steel of higher specifications from Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL). The steel from SAIL is perhaps of better specifications than Russian steel,” he said.

Prasad said the navy had yet to identify the weapons systems to be deployed on the carrier.

“The carrier will be ready in 2012. If we identify the systems now, it will become obsolete by the time the ship is ready,” a naval official said.

Besides the aircraft carrier, India is also building 19 vessels including frigates and corvettes, Prasad said.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:47 AM

 

India Seeks Export Customers for Dhruv
India has leased one indigenously produced Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter to a foreign customer and is targeting certain overseas markets, where it hopes to win export contracts for the aircraft.

The Dhruv costs about $9 million per helicopter, said an official with manufacturer Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), but it will be offered at 15 percent discounted rates for orders of more than six helicopters.

Israel Aircraft Industries (IAI) has leased one Dhruv on concessional terms, said the HAL official, who declined to reveal the exact price of the lease deal.

New Delhi has asked Israel not to use the Dhruv for combat purposes against Arab countries, with whom India has “excellent relations,” an Indian Defence Ministry official said.

Argentina, Brazil, Chile and other Latin American countries are being targeted as potential export customers for the Dhruv, the HAL official said. Two Dhruvs were sold to Nepal last year, he added, and there have been queries from Asia-Pacific and West Asian countries.

The Dhruv is equipped with IAI cockpits and avionics. Under a $33 million contract signed in 2004, IAI will supply the entire avionics package for Dhruv deliveries for both domestic and export markets.

Under the contract, the advanced avionics will be supplied by IAI for 100 helicopters initially. The major systems include an electronic warfare package, a day-and-night vision system, head-up display and other communication systems.

IAI also won the international marketing rights for export of ALH from HAL against stiff competition from Eurocopter of France and Elbit of Israel. Under the arrangement, IAI will use the ALH platform and mount it with Israeli avionics and other systems to tailor requirements for international clients.

The 5-metric-ton Dhruv is in the same helicopter class as the Mitsubishi MH 2000, Dauphin, EC-155, Super Lynx, S-76, Bell 412, AB 139 and PZL W-3A, the HAL official said. The Dhruv is powered by two TM 333-2B2 engines built by Turbomeca, France.

Conceived in 1970, India’s Advanced Light Helicopter program ran into trouble in 1998 after the United States imposed sanctions on India. The sanctions barred the original engine supplier — Light Helicopter Turbine Engine Company (LHTEC), Phoenix — from supplying its CTS-800 engines. The first Advanced Light Helicopter prototype flew in 1992, a naval version in 1995, and an Army version in 2000.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:46 AM

 

Lockheed Martin offers 'exclusive' F-16 fighters
US aviation manufacturer Lockheed Martin has offered to build ‘exclusive’ F-16 fighters for the Indian Air Force, much superior to any existing fighters in service world over.

“If India’s requirements are beyond any existing fighters, we are prepared to make upgraded F-16s to India’s specifications with complete transfer of technology,” Mike Kelly, senior executive of Lockheed Martin said in comments that assume importance after US administration’s decision to clear sales of high-technology fighters to India and Pakistan.

“We have in the past taken up building of such exclusive fighters for UAE and are prepared to manufacture F-16s to India’s special requirements,” he said.

The F-16 deal, like the weapons-locating radars and new contract for the US navy cover for Indian naval submarines in distress, is going to be concluded as a government-to-government deal under the FMS system, which would enable delivery of fighters on fast track basis.

The deal, estimated to cost $6-7m, projects supply of 18 aircraft in fly away conditions and the rest 108 assembled in India under technology transfer.

Analysts said that administration’s announcement yesterday meant that along with the sales of the fighters, Washington may allow the sale of entire array of weapons platform mounted on it, including beyond visual range air-to-air missiles and 100 km stand-off ground target engaging missiles.

Lockheed Martin is currently manufacturing F-16s in two versions. While Block 50-52 was being supplied to US and European air forces, the block 60 was developed exclusively for United Arab Emirates.

“We are ready to develop new block 70 for the IAF”, the Lockheed Martin official said. Besides Lockheed, the US announcement has also cleared the ground for the other American aviation giant Boeing to bid for India’s plans to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

The other big competitors are the Dassault, the makers of French Mirage fighters, Swedish Grippen and Russians.

Pakistan Air Force currently flies 40 F-16s of block 15 version, which most of the other air forces have almost phased out. Islamabad is seeking to buy 24 more Fighting Falcons of block 50-52 version.

The F-16s carry a broad range of weapons of American, European and Israeli make and, under the sales option, it would be up to New Delhi to go in for any choice. The Falcons in their air-to-air combat role carry American-made Mamram AIM-120 beyond visual range missiles as well as French Mica BVRS.

In the short range combat role, the US fighters carry the latest generation of heat-seeking missiles AMI-9X, the latest version of the famous Sidewinder missiles carried by the Pakistani F-16s. Other versions of the aircraft carry IRS-T, the European equivalent of the Sidewinder and the Israeli-made Python missiles.

In the air-to-ground role, the F-16s field precision guided weapons like laser guided bombs, GPS guided bombs and standoff missiles capable of destroying targets almost 100 km away.

Kelly said that the total US package would include provisions for product support and training of personnel and under the programme being worked out, 24 Indian pilots would be trained in the US on F-16s and 50-60 personnel for maintenance purpose.

On the sale of P3C Orion long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to the navy, the Lockheed officials said that negotiations were continuing and the deal could be signed by the year-end.

Under the deal, which is also under FMS, the US defence department would supply 10 aircraft, eight for flying use and two as spare. He said his company would be involved in the upgradation of the spy planes.

The official also expressed optimism on the sale of 6-7 C-130 Hercules transport aircraft for the air force. He said these aircraft would be configured for special missions with a contract likely to be concluded by ’07.

Kelly said Lockheed’s sister company Sikorsky had been shortlisted for bidding for navy’s requirement of anti-submarine warfare helicopters as replacement for the ageing British Seaking helicopters.

He said the helicopter MH-60 have recently won the contract for Presidential helicopter in the United States.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:44 AM

 

Pranab says India will actively consider US arms package
Two days after expressing disappointment over the US sale of F-16s to Pakistan, the Centre on Sunday signalled its readiness to take a hard look at Washington’s compensation package for New Delhi, which includes F-18s, Patriot anti-missile systems as well as systems for management of nuclear weapons.

In a clear indication that New Delhi might be interested in looking at what the US has put on the table as part of its “South Asian match up”, defence minister Pranab Mukherjee said India will “actively consider” Washington’s offer. “This is the first time we have received an offer of the kind from the US. Naturally, when the offer is there, it will have to be actively considered by the government keeping in view the requirements of our armed forces. Though earlier we used to have sometimes some equipment of high technology, never before an offer of such sophisticated equipment including planes and others were made which have been made now,” Mr Mukherjee said in Kolkata.

The remarks are significant for two reasons. Indian Air Force has no component from the US. It is built on planes from the Soviet Union and France — MiGs, Sukhois and Mirages. There is a strong view within the Air Force that India can do with Sukhois as they have proved to be reliable and user friendly for Indian pilots.

At the same time there is also a view that defence purchases are becoming diverse after the previous NDA government took the decision to introduce Israeli weapons system. The proposed Phalcon AWACS purchases is part of this diversification.

The F-16s carry a broad range of weapons of American, European and Israeli make and, under the sales option, it would be up to New Delhi to go in for any choice. The Falcons in their air-to-air combat role carry American-made Mamram AIM-120 Beyond Visual Range missiles as well as French Mica BVRs. The total US package would include provisions for product support and training of personnel and under the programme being worked out, 24 Indian pilots would be trained in the US on F-16s and 50-60 personnel for maintenance purpose.

Mr Kelly said that the total US package would include provisions for product support and training of personnel and under the programme being worked out, 24 Indian pilots would be trained in the US on F-16s and 50-60 personnel for maintenance purpose.

On the sale of P3C Orion long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to the Navy, the Lockheed officials said that negotiations were continuing and the deal could be signed by the year end.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin, the manufacturers of F-16, confirmed that the company has offered to build “exclusive” and India-compatible F-16 fighters for the IAF, much superior to any existing fighters in service world over. “If India’s requirements are beyond any existing fighters, we are prepared to make upgraded F-16s to India’s specifications with complete transfer of technology,” Mike Kelly, senior executive of Lockheed Martin told a news agency. The proposed deal envisages supply of 18 aircraft in fly away conditions and the rest 108 assembled in India under technology transfer.

Lockheed Martin is currently manufacturing F-16s in two versions. While Block 50-52 was being supplied to US and European air forces, the Block 60 was developed exclusively for the United Arab Emirates. “We are ready to develop new Block 70 for the IAF,” the Lockheed Martin official said. Besides Lockheed, the US announcement has also cleared the ground for the other American aviation giant Boeing to bid for India’s plans to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

The other big competitors are the Dassault, the makers of French Mirage fighters, Swedish Grippen and Russians.

The F-16s carry a broad range of weapons of American, European and Israeli make and, under the sales option, it would be up to New Delhi to go in for any choice. The Falcons in their air-to-air combat role carry American-made Mamram AIM-120 Beyond Visual Range missiles as well as French Mica BVRs.

Mr Kelly said that the total US package would include provisions for product support and training of personnel and under the programme being worked out, 24 Indian pilots would be trained in the US on F-16s and 50-60 personnel for maintenance purpose.

On the sale of P3C Orion long range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to the Navy, the Lockheed officials said that negotiations were continuing and the deal could be signed by the year end.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:41 AM

 

US offers N-tech, missile system
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice strongly defended the decision to sell nuclear-capable F-16s to Pakistan and expressed confidence that the balancing exercise in the Indian subcontinent will succeed. At the same time, US is allowing its companies to bid for advanced jet fighters wanted by India. It is talking about the possible supply of nuclear power plants by the order-starved American companies and the sale of missile defence system.

Through an interview with The Washington Post, Ms Rice conveyed to Pakistan that the US would not abandon it this time as it did after its participation in the strategic alliance during the anti-Soviet operation in Afghanistan.

US penitence should reassure Pakistan, as it had complained after the collapse of the Soviet Union that it was used like a toilet paper. Geopolictical and commercial reasons converged in the case of the US decision to sell F-16s and the Bush administration will ride through the storm of negative comments about the deal made by the media, some lawmakers and a section of scholars.

The critics believe that the US is rewarding an undemocratic regime and a nuclear proliferater at the cost of a democratic ally. They say it would kickstart a new arms race in one of the most dangerous areas in the world.

Democratic Congressman Frank Pallone expressed his “outrage” over the US decision and said that it will mean a step backward in the US-India relations. Some months ago, he had written to Mr Bush cautioning against the sale of F-16s to a non-democratic country that supported terrorists infiltration in Kashmir and supplied nuclear equipment to terrorist nations.

On the day the F-16 decision came, it was reported that the last of the F-16s have been delivered by Lockheed Martin to the US Air Force. In the absence of fresh order, the defence contractor would have had to slow down the production line at some stage. Pakistan’s order will help save jobs in US.

Once in 1992, the F-16 line was saved when the earlier Bush administration allowed the sale of 150 F-16s to Taiwan.

The US as well as Lockheed will see whether the decision to supply to Pakistan will make India to favour the company with a larger order of the model that the Indian Air Force finds suitable.

Of course, the entry of the US companies into the picture may make the rival European and Russian suppliers more flexible in their terms. India’s order for new fighter planes will be a much bigger deal.

At this stage, India has just requested information from potential suppliers.
The Secretary of State told The Washington Post that the US is trying to solidify and extend relations with both India and Pakistan at a time, “when we have good relations with both of them, something that most people didn’t think could be done, and when they have improving relationships with one another”.

She said in New Delhi, the two countries talked about broadening and deepening the US-India relationship in areas like defence and energy co-operation. We have broad and deepening relationship with both India and Pakistan, she said. In the same interview, Ms Rice highlighted the US plans to spread democracy throughout the world.When asked to justify the F-16 decision in that context, she said: “Pakistan is worlds away from where it was three and a half years ago. One has to look not at fixed points in time. International politics is not like a satellite that comes over and takes a snapshot, takes a snapshot, it’s a process.” She also cited in defence, the 9/11 Commission report that asked the government to invest in the relationship with Pakistan.

A day after Washington offered to supply F-16 or more advanced F-18 fighter jets to India, New Delhi said on Saturday it would consider buying sophisticated warplanes from American companies “if they match Indian requirements”, reports PTI from.

“Recently, American companies, which manufacture fighter aircraft and weapons, are willing to work with us and they have submitted some proposals to us,” Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee told reporters here. “Naturally, we will discuss them (proposals) and if military aircraft and other weapons, needed for our national interest, are available from the US, we will certainly consider them,” he said.

Dismissing the sale of US fighter planes and sophisticated weapons to Pakistan as “nothing new”, Mr Mukherjee said: “Cooperation in economic and other areas between US and India has increased manifold, but there is so far no defence agreement between the two countries.”

To a question about Washington's willingness to sell F-16s to India, the Defence Minister said New Delhi was looking for several military aircraft and would prefer the one suiting the country's interest.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:39 AM

 

Pak sale takes shine off US jets
The Indian Air Force is likely to issue a tender next month inviting bids for its multi-billion-dollar contract to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.

The US decision to supply the Pakistan Air Force with Lockheed Martin-manufactured F-16s will reflect poorly on the company that is also in the running for the contract despite assurances from Washington that it is offering New Delhi a wider array of military hardware.

The Indian Air Force order is one of the biggest military contracts going currently. The IAF is the fourth largest air force in the world and a big-time customer for global defence contractors.

The aircraft could cost India $5 billion or more over five years. The US announcement that it will lift curbs and supply F-16s to Pakistan has come at a time when the Indian Air Force is desperately trying to upgrade its combat fleet and get back to its authorised strength of more than 39 squadrons. It is currently down to about 30 squadrons.

The defence ministry had last year sent requests for information to four companies for the contract — Dassault Aviation of France for its Mirage 2000-V-Mk2, Sweden’s SAAB for its JAS 39C Gripen, Russia’s RSK MiG Corporation for the MiG-29M/M2 and, as an afterthought, to Lockheed Martin for the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

India has always been cagey of signing long-term defence contracts with the US because New Delhi perceives Washington as an erratic military supplier, an impression that was just about getting dispelled after military-to-military relations were put on an upward trajectory since 2002.

A Lockheed Martin spokesperson said the US was offering the F/A 18 Hornet, a more advanced aircraft than the F-16, to India. But sources in air headquarters say a combination of factors weigh heavily against sourcing from the US.

Chief among these are a history of arm-twisting with military supplies, the IAF’s inventory that does not have American-made combat aircraft, and, Washington’s timing of its announcement when India and Pakistan are engaged in a peace process.

Of the three armed forces, India has so far enjoyed a clear superiority in numbers and fighting ability in the air element. The Pakistan Air Force has about 20 squadrons, mostly of mixed aircraft, that comprise second and third generation American fighters and also an older generation of Mirage. Even though the IAF is down to 30 squadrons, it retains superiority.

The supply of F-16s, air force sources say, will mean that it will take more for the IAF to maintain the asymmetry. Washington’s announcement has not detailed the number and the kind of F-16s it will be supplying to Pakistan.

But with the IAF planning to add about 200 combat aircraft — 126 multi-role and the rest in strike and air defence components — by 2010 India will still be ahead. There is little doubt, however, that the US offer will intensify the arms race in South Asia.

The sources say it is not clear if the US is supplying the F-16s that were contracted by Pakistan but stalled by Washington after sanctions in 1990 or it is supplying a new version of the aircraft.

The F-16 is used by air forces in about 20 countries but it has undergone enormous changes in its avionics, manoeuvrability and weaponry in the last 20 years.

Pakistan had contracted 71 ‘block 15’ F-16s in 1988 and 1989 but in accordance with the Pressler amendment the US announced on October 6, 1990, that it was stopping arms deliveries to Pakistan.

By 1994, 28 aircraft that were manufactured for Pakistan were ordered to be stored. Pakistan had paid $685 million on the contract. IAF sources in Delhi say the ‘block 15’ F-16s are of an older generation than the aircraft currently in use by the US Air Force.

Against this background, the offer of the F/A 18s is not immediately being seen in New Delhi as one that can be seriously pursued.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:38 AM

 

US offering F-18s for first time outside country
By giving green signal to its aviation majors to bid for contracts in India, the US has for the first time allowed sale of its land and carrier-based F-18 fighter jets to any country.

Boeing's F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, popularly known as F-18s, have previously not been sold to any country, even to NATO allies, aviation officials said.

The US decision, is seen here by military strategists as a step towards Washington and New Delhi stepping up their strategic partnership. Two major US companies - Lockheed Martin and Boeing - would now be bidding for the Indian Air Force's contract on acquisition of 126 multi-role combat aircraft. Also in the race are France's Dassualt, Sweden's Grippen and companies from Russia.

Reacting to the announcement, top Lockheed Martin executive in India Mike Kelly said his company would soon respond to India's request for information on the sale of its best selling combat aircraft, the upgraded F-16 falcons. "We are optimistic about our chances and excited to be allowed to make a first ever major defence contract bid in India," Kelly said.

Lockheed Martin along with Dassault, the makers of the upgraded Mirage 2000, are the first two companies to offer complete technology transfer to India. The single engined F-16s, experts say, would definitely enjoy a price advantage over the F-18s which are twin engined.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:36 AM

 

F-16 to Pakistan need not worry India
The US decision to supply the top-of- the-model F-18 aircraft to India, with a license to manufacture in India, civilian nuclear energy and cooperation in the field of space technology could not have been made on the basis of any military calculations, but for strategic reasons.

Defence analyst Uday Bhaskar says, the US decision "is a positive development" in the long run, and India "should not be carried away" by the Bush administration's decision to arm Pakistan with F-16s.

Military and strategic relations between the two nations saw an upswing after strained relations following India going nuclear in May 1998. The American sanctions against India at best could have had some salutary impact, but India managed to pull out, owing to its inherent economic strength.

Washington had to ease its own sanctions and repair relations, which began with a visit by the then President Bill Clinton in March 2000 followed by lifting of sanctions on purchases of high- tech military hardware. The decision to lift sanctions on high- tech equipment could have been driven more by compulsions from domestic armament industry and to break into a forte which until now was served by India's cold war ally Russia.

The military inventory in India had all through been procured from Russia and there have been historical reasons for it. New Delhi was more concerned about the reliability quotient than any other factor. In fact the Su-30 fighters India has procured from Russia is generally regarded as technologically superior to-of- the-line aircraft. During Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's visit to Delhi on March 16, she had impressed upon Indian leaders that the US wishes to be "a reliable defence partner with India".

Bush Administration has matched its decision to sell F-16 fighter crafts to Pakistan, which was stalled due to Islamabad's nuke programme, with an offer to sell a similar or more advanced plane for India to balance the power equation in the Indian subcontinent. The US has now conveyed that it has also approved participation of US defense companies in the bidding for "Multi Role Combat Aircraft" in India.

The offer of civilian nuclear energy, which was made during the visit of the Secretary Rice, seems to be driven by the US reservation for India-Iran gas project. New Delhi has welcomed the decision describing that it "reflects an understanding of India's growing energy requirements. However, the parameters of the offer are still not clear.

India's current technological needs are taken care of by Russia, which is supplying four nuclear power reactors for the Koodankulam Atomic Power Project in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.

"We expect further substantive discussion within the ambit of the Indo-US Energy Dialogue, which is proposed to be set up shortly," said Navtej Sarna, Spokesman of the External Affairs Ministry in New Delhi at a past-midnight briefing last night.

Uday Bhaskar said the US responses to the broad range of issues discussed with Secretary Rice by Indian interlocutors indicate that the Bush 2 team is determined to take forward the content in the bi-lateral relationship that had been hinted at in the first term of the Bush administration.

He said there is a deeper strategic underpinning between the two countries notwithstanding the divergences that were expressed over issues such as Iran and the sale of F-16 aircraft to Pakistan.

"Whether it is the fundamental support to equitable democracy as a principle or the need to manage the emerging nuclear challenges and find a modus vivendi to the energy domain, there is a shared interest that binds India and the USA" said Bhaskar.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:35 AM

 

Outside View: Bush's F-16 folly
The U.S. government announced Friday its decision sell nuclear-capable Lockheed-Martin F-16 C/D strike fighter aircrafts to Pakistan. While the deal still needs congressional approval, given that the Republicans control both houses of Congress, the sale is unlikely to face any roadblock.

To most South Asia observers, this decision was no surprise. Getting advanced F-16s and a package to upgrade its existing old F-16 fleet has always been on the Pakistani wish list since its president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, joined the U.S.-led coalition against terrorism in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. With intense media speculation in the preceding weeks, most news watchers felt a sense of inevitability about the F-16 sale.

Although the Bush maintains the sale of F-16s to Pakistan will not affect the regional balance, most experts disagree. Some Pakistani and Western analyses point to India's growing technological edge in the weapons arena. Systems such as the Israeli Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control System and the Russian-built Sukhoi-30MKI multirole aircrafts are given as examples of India's growing technology advantage.

Once again, the analyses that highlight India's perceived technological edge overlook some critical factors. Recent trends indicate Pakistan is rapidly closing the airpower technology gap. The FC-1 fighter, which Pakistan is jointly developing with China, is close to production stage and will go far to neutralize the Indian threat. The fighter program gives Pakistan some assets unavailable to date, including Beyond Visual Range air-to-air missiles, mid-air refueling and better radars. Pakistani air force leaders have publicly said they believe the FC-1 is an asset that is superior to anything on India's inventory except perhaps the Su-30.

The United States has already promised an upgrade package for the Pakistan air force's existing F-16 fleet. Over the next few years, Pakistan will be armed with upgraded F-16s and a large number of advanced FC-1 fighters - a situation few can argue is indicative of a major imbalance with respect to India. Clearly the new F-16s are nothing more than gravy for Pakistan. Pakistani defense analysts have noted the country is almost certain not to rely on the F-16s for its next generation strike aircraft needs and is looking to procure advanced "4th Generation" aircrafts from France or Sweden. Given that the F-16s are likely to be paid for by the U.S. taxpayer, they are unlikely to affect Pakistan's other defense procurements.

South Asia historians know that whenever the Pakistanis military feels strong or gets a shot in the arm, it has tended to undertake risky military actions against India, especially over the disputed Kashmir region, which Pakistan covets. Wars in 1965, skirmishes in 1999 as well as close calls in the late 1980s and early 1990s bear out this theory. In addition, war risk is historically compounded when a military dictator rules Pakistan, as is the case now. Therefore it is puzzling the United States has chosen to reward Pakistan with an offensive weapon system like the F-16 at a time when India-Pakistan peace talks are at a delicate stage.

Most Indian strategists and some Western analysts say a militarily uncertain Pakistan is more conducive for regional peace. Prominent South Asia expert Stephen P. Cohen has written in the past that it was good for the United States that after 9/11 it had great relations with India as it essentially forced Pakistan to agree to most U.S. terms when faced with a critical decision on whether to become a U.S. ally against al-Qaida and the Taliban.

Another Western academic who has visited Pakistan many times noted to this author last year that it was to America's advantage that the Pakistanis relied on U.S. goodwill to essentially persuade India to back off from attacking Pakistan during the 2002 border crisis that followed a terrorist attack on India's parliament.

"That lifesaving power gave Americans enormous leverage which should not be frittered away by strengthening Pakistan militarily with strategic weapons," the academic added. It now appears that the United States has decided to give up that leverage.

It is likely now that after the initial period of euphoria, Pakistan could begin to harden its attitude against India. Because it is unlikely U.S. diplomats will attach any strings to the F-16s, the Pakistanis could very well interpret this as a sign of U.S. dependency on Pakistan in the war on terror. U.S. scholar Jack Gill of the National Defense University has written Pakistani leaders have a history of misreading or ignoring U.S. messages especially when it comes to military adventures. As a result, he noted U.S. policy has many times led to the "inadvertent strengthening of those (Pakistanis) who advocated risky military strategies rather than political or diplomatic resolution of issues." Unfortunately, one can be almost certain the F-16 sale has a great risk of turning out to be one such policy move.

News reports quote unnamed administration officials directly relating the F-16 deal to Musharraf's cooperation in the war on terror. But fighter aircrafts are unlike educational aid or other financial support because their sale has serious geopolitical implications inside Pakistan and for U.S. foreign policy. When many Bush administration officials have repeatedly pointed out the need to reform Pakistan's education system as well as the dire state of its civil institutions, couldn't there have been an better way to reward the Pakistani government than by making a subsidized sale of destabilizing weapons systems?

Besides, Pakistan already receives billions in direct and indirect military assistance, with sales of more than a billion dollars worth of naval reconnaissance planes, helicopters, missiles and other systems already being approved. The Congressional Research Service, quoting Pentagon documents, says that between January 2003 and September 2004, Pakistan received military funding equivalent to about a third of its total defense expenditures. The United States is now committed to giving Pakistan at least $300 million in military assistance annually for an indefinite period.

In addition, Pakistan has received lifesaving concessions from the United States such as acquiescence to the cover up of the world's biggest and most sinister nuclear proliferation scandal, for which Musharraf conveniently made one man, A.Q. Khan, take the fall even as he pardoned the father of Pakistan''s nuclear program and kept him away from international investigators.

Nonproliferation advocates must also be aghast at the sheer irony of rewarding a serial nuclear proliferator, especially its military, with a nuclear weapon delivery platform. Although Pakistan has missiles capable of delivering nuclear warheads, no military leader would willingly avoid making an addition to his nuclear arsenal to use. At a time where the United States is urging the international community to take tougher action on "rogue" states that proliferate nuclear weapons, it is hard to see anything but hypocrisy when one juxtaposes U.S. tough talk with Iran and North Korea against its rewarding of a Pakistani military that supplied nuclear capability to the former two nations and is refusing to hand over the alleged proliferator-in-chief -Khan.

Other Bush officials have referred to the report by the independent commission that investigated the 9-11 attacks that recommended that Washington move to alleviate any mistrust in its attitude toward Pakistan and commit itself to providing military and other aid for that country. But they forget to mention that the commission also noted the aid should be contingent upon Pakistan's progress in moving toward becoming a moderate state and its sincerity in abandoning past policies.

Observers such as former Pakistani diplomat Husain Haqqani have begun noticing an eerie similarity between the Bush administration's policy toward Pakistan now and the Reagan administration's policy toward that country in the 1980s. In the Reagan era, Pakistan was presented as a bulwark against Soviet Communism and was lavished with F-16s and other weapons while its dictator, Gen. Zia-ul Haq, was portrayed as a courageous leader against communist tyranny. U.S. officials ignored Zia's antidemocratic actions and systematic destruction of political opposition. If one replaces Zia with Musharraf and communism with terrorism, the U.S. policy appears to be identical.

It is curious that on the one hand U.S. policymakers emphasize the fragility of Musharraf's hold on power while simultaneously seeking to sell long-lasting military assets such as the F-16s. Should the oft-touted scenario of Musharraf being assassinated or overthrown and a hard-line Islamist general replacing him become reality, it now appears the new regime is likely to be armed with latest U.S. weapons, while keeping Pakistan leaky nuclear estate intact. This is what happened in Iran when the U.S.-friendly shah was overthrown in an Islamic revolution and the anti-U.S. mullahs inherited a U.S.-supplied military with advanced F-14 fighters.

However, when people are determined not to learn from history, they will eventually have to pay the piper. The unfortunate part in this case is that in the near term, it is India and not the United States that will have to bear the consequences of U.S. expediency with Pakistan. In the longer term, however, U.S. policymakers better remember what military historian Ralph Peters once noted -- the shah always falls.


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Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:34 AM

 

 
The global defense industry is constantly shaping how borders are protected, wars are fought, terrorists are tracked and caught, and global security maintained. We aim to track news, policy, military exercises and strategic affairs between the world's largest democracies - India and the United States.

Given the vast interest and passion we have in this field, we decided to launch this blog to give visitors the ability to track these developments, exchange ideas and link to other sources of Information. Our primary sources and links can be found on the main page. Some of the pieces published herein our ours, otherwise it is reproduced from other sources (news, think-tanks or publications) to provide our readers the ability to interact and respond. The link to the original source can always be found under the article. Articles and op-ed pieces written by us include thoughts and opinions that are ours, not those of any government or political party. Last but not least, this blog is not-for-profit, nor is it financially supported by any corporation, entity or organization. It is purely to be used for informational purposes and not commercial and/or profit motives.

Thank you, Nik Khanna & Jango Unwalla

 
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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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