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.
Arms race with India can cripple Pakistan: Editorial
Pakistan needs to shift from its conflictual paradigm vis-a-vis India and think of of ways to ease human distress and promote peace in the neighbourhood in the wake of the devastating October 8 earthquake, says an editorial in the Daily Times.
Not doing so could enhance “external threats” to its already overly strained environment and economy, the editorial adds.
According to the editorial, Islamabad’s resource base is under pressure, and with the government saying that 5 to10 billion dollars will be eventually needed to rehabilitate and rebuild the lives and homes of the quake victims, it should avoid confrontationist positions with New Delhi.
Though countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim countries have come forward with aid, international donors have not been as forthcoming as was hoped. Western countries are agreeable to sending men and materials to Pakistan, but reluctant to fork out cash.
At the back of their minds is the fact that Pakistan is about to spend 1.5 billion dollars on buying the first batch of F-16 fighter bombers when that money could be better spent on alleviating the hardships of the quake-hit people.
Given Pakistan's conflictual defence strategy vis a vis India, its air force (PAF) has been under pressure over its depleting armour. Its current fleet of 32 F-16s is not fully operational due to the lack of spares. The Pakistan Air Force has had to cannibalise a few aircraft to keep the rest operational. The truth is that even after getting the 24 new F-16s, the value of the new acquisitions in the Indo-Pakistan weapons calculus context will remain symbolic, says the editorial.
“India can actually lead us to our perdition by playing on our imitative military instinct. The US offer to Pakistan is accompanied with a much bigger offer of technology transfer to India. New Delhi will be offered top-of-the-line fighter aircraft, such as the F-18, or the Joint Strike Fighter, with the additional advantage of licensed production in India. The US is also thinking of transferring to India some of its anti-ballistic missile systems and dual-use technology. Given the foremost reflex in Pakistan to match India weapon for weapon, this gives India an advantage over us, which is more lethal than its military superiority,” the editorial adds.
According to the paper, the size of the Indian economy gives it the leeway to spend more on arms than Pakistan at all times. Its edge over Pakistan in technology sharpens this advantage further. New Delhi can force Islamabad to spend itself into insolvency.
The editorial concludes by saying that the world is fully aware of the folly of an India-Pakistan arms race. It wants the two to normalise relations and become economically interdependent neighbours and recommends that the synergies of the two countries leaderships need to be focused on alleviating poverty and distress rathen than on the weapons calculus.
India has finally cleared the high-tech supersonic cruise missile, BrahMos, and Chile could be among the first buyers.
"The export of military hardware is no longer an issue, and we have started exporting the BrahMos," Vice-Admiral Madanjit Singh, Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Naval Command, said on Thursday. He was addressing a seminar on "Navy-Industry Convergence: Challenges and Opportunities" here.
Later, he told reporters that Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the CEO of BrahMos Aerospace, A. Sivathanu Pillai, were in Chile and finalisation of the missile deal was on the cards. Other countries were also in the process of placing orders for the missile, a result of Indo-Russian joint research. He did not name any country but said some in South-East Asia could be among them.
The BrahMos, with a range of 290 km, is capable of delivering an over 300-kg conventional warhead at twice or even thrice the speed of sound. It is the only supersonic missile of its class. The Navy has armed several of its warships, notably the Rajput class destroyers, with the BrahMos, essentially a long-range anti-ship weapon, for a coastal attack role.
The missile is multi-platform capable and a plan is afoot to arm Su-30 multirole aircraft with it for air-to-land combat. Its Army version for land-to-land combat was tested last year.
At the seminar, jointly organised by the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai, and the Confederation of Indian Industry to mark the 270th anniversary of the dockyard, Vice-Admiral Singh told industry that the Navy did not like to depend on foreign suppliers, particularly after the post-Pokhran II sanctions that resulted in its helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft grounded for want of spares. He called upon industry to join the indigenisation process.
The Navy, with 20 warships under construction at different shipyards, offered many an opportunity to the private ship building industry.
Even in large weapon procurement deals, for instance the recently-signed French submarine agreement, there were offset clauses requiring the suppliers to buy Indian components and systems. Industry could avail itself of these opportunities. Foreign suppliers were being encouraged to find an Indian industry partner.
Vic-Admiral Singh told reporters that the offset clause got lost in the documents until recently and the domestic industry did not benefit from it. Now the offsets were being pursued attentively. The implementation of the clause could be linked to the payment stages. Industry could also have tie-ups with the Defence Research and Development Organisation and defence public sector undertakings. He wanted an institutionalised approach to such partnerships.
The Navy was keen on a submarine programme, besides the just-concluded Scorpene deal. "We have operated several types of submarines all the time and now also we are having Russian and German submarines in our inventory." Other submarines were being evaluated for the second programme. To a question, Vice-Admiral Singh said the Navy examined and found the Russian Amur a good submarine but it all depended on the offer.
Asked about the indigenous Trishul surface-to-air missile, he said the Navy needed missiles four times more powerful in terms of range and strike capability. Unlike the BrahMos, the Trishul could not hit a supersonic cruise missile.
India and Chile are poised to finalize plans for Chile’s purchase of an unspecified number of Advanced Light Helicopters (ALHs) built by Indian government-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL), a senior Defence Ministry official here said Oct. 26.
The news was divulged as Indian Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee began an official visit to Chile. The ALH sale contract will be signed during his visit.
Mukherjee is accompanied by a high-level delegation, including Vice Adm. Raman Puri, chief of India’s Integrated Defence Staff; HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja; Ordnance Factories Board Chairman P.K. Mishra; and Sivathanu Pillai, managing director of the BrahMos cruise missile project.
India last year offered to sell Chile its homegrown multi-utility helicopters, and a number of senior-level delegations from the two countries have visited each other to negotiate the purchase. HAL is marketing ALH jointly with Israel Aircraft Industries to the global market.
The ALH, which seats 13, is powered by two French Snecma TM-333B engines and has 55 percent foreign components. Sources in the Indian Defence Ministry said each ALH will be sold for around $5.4 million.
The Defence Ministry official said the sale of ALHs to Chile will open opportunities to sell the ALH to other Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Peru and Surinam.
India and Mauritius, which currently share surveillance information and military training, plan to step up their defense ties to include the supply of weaponry and equipment.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed here Oct. 25, the Indian Navy will assist Mauritius in updating its charts and navigation data.
An Indian Navy official said that the reworking of survey charts would lead to safer navigation and better management of the Mauritian Exclusive Economic Zone. To begin with, an Indian Navy survey ship will be deployed in an area to be identified by the Mauritian government in January.
Visiting Mauritian Prime Minister Navin Chandra Ramgoolam and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh signed the Oct. 25 agreement on the hydrographic work to be undertaken by India’s Navy.
Mauritius also has expressed interest in acquiring the Indian-made Advanced Light Helicopter and buying fast boats from Indian shipyards.
A senior Indian Defence Ministry official said Mauritius also is buying an unspecified number of Dornier aircraft built by India’s state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. for maritime surveillance. Mauritius also is negotiating the purchase of Indian Offshore Patrol Vessels.
Over the years, India has provided the Indian Ocean archipelago nation with expertise and hardware to develop Mauritius’ security capability. New Delhi gave Mauritius a patrol craft in the 1970s. A number of Indian Navy, Coast Guard and Air Force personnel are attached to the Mauritius Coast Guard.
Indian Air Force goes total high tech in the middle of massive upgradation
Indian Air Force is planning to compete with America, China and Russia. In the next ten years it is planning to transform itself into stunningly high tech and extremely space based. There are some interim stages though. First it plans to embark on a massive up-gradation of its aging aircrafts to keep pace with Pakistan. After that all eyes to high tech and satellite and space driven total high tech efforts.
According to media reports, concerned over its dwindling aircraft fleet, Indian Air Force announced plans for massive upgradation of its entire frontline fighter fleet, barring the newly acquired Sukhoi-30MKI.
According sources within Indian Government, India is planning to go all out to the space and the Indian President, world’ one of the most well known Space Scientist is all behind it.
"It will be an interim measure as we hope to restore our authorised strength by the proposed induction of 126 Medium Range Combat aircraft," the new Vice Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani said in Delhi.
The fighters lined up for upgradation through technology induction include the country's lone air superiority aircraft, MiG-29, multi role aircraft Mirage 2000 as well as more of the MiG-21's.
Along with upgrading the frontline fighters, the IAF also proposes to modernize and augment its transport fleet of IL-78 air to air Refuellers, An-32 medium haul aircraft as well its ageing fleet of Mi-17 helicopters, the Vice Chief said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has drawn up a massive plan to upgrade hundreds of its combat jets and transport aircraft to extend their life as it scouts the world market for 126 new fighters.
Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani, vice chief of the IAF, said here Monday that his force planned to refurbish its inventory of surface-to-air missiles and fighter jets like the Jaguars, MiG-29s and Mirage 2000s to keep them flying for longer.
At the same time, its fleet of Russian-made Mi-17 transport helicopters and An-32 medium transport aircraft would also be upgraded with better avionics and sensors.
The IAF is mulling a proposal to refurbish An-32 transport planes and all its helicopters to make them capable of midair refuelling.
"The IAF is also keeping open the option of upgrading more squadrons of its MiG-21 fighters. An earlier contract to upgrade 125 of these jets is complete," Bhavnani told a select group of journalists at a briefing at Air Headquarters.
The issue of upgrading more MiG-21s would depend on whether this was a cost effective option, he said.
India signed a contract worth Rs.12 billion with Russia in March 1996 to refurbish 125 MiG-21s using a mix of modern Russian and Israeli avionics and weapon systems. The contract included an option to upgrade 50 more jets.
Bhavnani, however, said the move to upgrade more jets would be carried out alongside its programme to buy 126 new jets.
Five jets are currently being considered for purchase - the Lockheed Martin F-16 from the US, France's Mirage 2000, the MiG-29 from Russia and the Swedish Gripen jet.
"We are planning upgrades of practically every aircraft. We will also upgrade our surface-to-air missiles which are about 30 years old," Bhavnani said. "We are doing this so that we don't have to start looking for more new aircraft."
As the IAF acquired more potent combat jets like the Su-30, it could consider a proposal to "trim down" its manpower to become a "leaner and meaner" force. However, no guidelines had been framed as yet for the cuts in force levels that could be made, Bhavnani said.
IAF to refine doctrine for contemporary challenges, roles
The Indian Air Force is redefining its existing doctrine to incorporate contemporary circumstances, including its increasing role in disaster relief and UN peacekeeping, and acquisition of assets conferring a strategic reach capability.
''The IAF was the first service to formulate its doctrine, way back in the mid-1990s. Now, we are engaged in refining that doctrine to incorporate new challenges and roles such as UN peacekeeping, in which earlier the Army only figured. A study has been commissioned in this connection,'' Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani told mediapesons here.
With increasing participation in disaster relief operations, the IAF has also drawn up standard proceedures for reacting to calamities and ensuring a faster response, he said, citing the examples of the devastating tsunami -- where the personnel at Car Nicobar ignored their own losses to instantly mount rescue missions, the floods in Mumbai, Himachal and other parts of the country, and most recently, the killer quake in Jammu and Kashmir.
''We also have to provide for an 'Out of Area' contingencies, where the IAF goes as an expeditionary force, not to fight but render assistance in the wake of calamities,'' he said.
On the IAF's Strategic Vision-2015, he said that it was only limited to the middle of the next decade because that was considered an optimum limit at the time the plan was drawn up, in respect of technology and assets.
''We will have to carry out a rethink in the next three to four years to incorporate newly-acquired assets such as the mid-air refuellers as well as the buddy-refuelling pods on the fighter aircraft that confer greater strategic reach as well as items in the pipeline like the three 'Phalcon' AWACS,'' Air Marshal Bhavnani said.
The Vice Chief noted that in a few years when all these assets are operationalised, the force would have to draft a new vision plan covering the period upto 2025 or 2030.
On a question whether the considerations of strategic reach capabilities could play a role in deciding which aircraft to acquire out of the five contenders for the 126 MRCAs, Air Marshal Bhavnani said these had already been factored in when the contenders were chosen.
After the successful trials of the ship-launched and land-to-land versions of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, India and Russia now aim to try out air-launched and submarine-launched variants of the missile.
A Russian airforce transport aircraft flew directly from a Russian airbase to the Bhubaneswar airport on Friday to unload "sensitive cargo" relating to the new variants of the BrahMos missile. The cargo carried in two trailers, which left for the Integrated Test Range at Chandipur accompanied by police escorts and a fire tender.
Sources in the ITR told HT that new versions of BrahMos would soon be tested for which the missile components were sourced from Russia.
Trials of the anti-ship version of BrahMos missile have already been completed and the last successful test firing was conducted from destroyer INS Rajput in the Arabian Sea earlier this year. Land-to-land version BrahMos II was test-fired in a desert range in Rajasthan in December 2004.
"We are now focussing on the air-launched version which would be integrated with Sukhoi MKI (Mark India) multi-role fighter aircraft and submarine-launched version," sources said.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has phased out about half a dozen of its MiG series of combat squadrons in the past couple of years, forcing it to take unprecedented steps to keep up its fighting capability by technology induction.
As predicted in these columns at the beginning of this year, the present strength of the IAF combat force has come down to about 30 squadrons, down from 39 declared by the then Chief of Air Staff a couple of years ago. The loss is due to the large ageing fleet of MiG-21s as well as MiG-23s and MiG-27s, and the inability of the successive governments to timely replace them over the last two decades.
Sources say that the IAF has sought an immediate step-up in the production level of SU-30 aircraft from eight to 12 per year, creation of another MiG-21 BIS squadron, and also placed an order for additional Jaguar Attack jets with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Induction of force multipliers like laser-guided and other precision bombs, standoff weapons, better radars and longer-range unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or pilotless surveillance aircraft has also been boosted.
According to noted defence analyst, Air Marshal Ashok Goel (retd), the loss of numbers is indeed worrying keeping in mind the increasing strategic role of India on the one hand and the fact that a much smaller country like Pakistan has 22 squadrons, or about three-fourths of what India has.
“The Air Force and the Ministry of Defence are now working fast to ensure the induction of 126 multi role combat aircraft (MRCAs) to replace the phased out jets, and although the formal request for proposals (RfPs) to the five contenders would be send by the year-end, their induction would still take time. Fast induction of force multipliers is one immediate measure to keep the force fighting fit,” he says.
Till 2003, India had approximately 700 combat jets, according to the Military Balance published by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). About 600 of these were of Soviet/ Russian origin, and of them, more than half, or 300-plus, were MiG 21s. Then there were 78-MiG 23s, 135 MiG-27s, 63-MiG 29s, and seven MiG-25s, the last being the mainstay of aerial reconnaissance.
Except for 125 MiG-21s, which are being upgraded to the MiG 21-BIS standard, all other Mig-21s and all the MiG-23s and MiG-27s aircraft are due to be phased out by 2007.
That is a very large number, creating a vacuum of nearly half of the IAF’s combat strength, but for the timely induction of SU-30s and force multipliers from flight refuellers to precision bombs, the first of which were used in the 1999 Kargil war to throw out the infiltrating Pakistani troops.
India already has a squadron of six Il-78 Flight Refuelling Aircraft (FRAs), which can extend the range and staying power of SU 30s, Mirage 2000s, Jaguars and MiG-29s. The number of the FRAs, and possibly also that of Phalcon AWACs, three of which India is buying from Israel, would go a long way in helping the IAF defend the nation.
It may be noted that the IAF has received some Mirage-2000 aircraft to make up for the periodic training and operational losses (maintenance reserve and strike off wastage) that any force has to bear, but its expectation to buy 12 Mirage-2005 from Qatar, all of which are in excellent condition, has fallen through due to the differences over price. A deal would have been nice as these aircraft would have come both with spares and weapons.
Mirage 2005 is among the five MRCAs that the IAF is considering, the others being Russian Mig 29M2, Swedish JAS 39 Gripen and the US F-16 made by Lockheed Martin and F-18 made by Boeing.
The F-18 Hornet has been designed for ship-borne attacks but is a good aircraft and can be used particularly from air bases along the shore.
Nonetheless, the choice has to lie with the IAF as it will have the responsibility to deploy them in compatibility with its overall training and operational perspective.
According to Air Marshal Goel, HAL is the lifeline of the IAF and accordingly has a major responsibility, qualitatively and quantitatively, to deliver whatever aircraft the IAF orders on time.
That includes the SU 30s, Jaguars, MiG-21 BIS and the LCA Tejas, whose induction is due from 2007-08 onwards. Of the 126 MRCAs, IAF would get only about 20 in flyaway condition and the rest would be assembled or manufactured by HAL. The process should be time-bound and customer-responsive.
Pointing out that one former Prime Minister opposed the induction of SU-30s, Air Marshal Goel says that it is time the politicians stopped playing blame games with one another and thereby adversely affecting the armed forces.
Delays in induction of aircraft and technology for the Air Force, and similarly modern equipment for the Army and Navy, would threaten the security of the country.
The lesson is clear: ageing equipment loses its heart and soul and technological transplants cannot prolong its effective life. The IAF needs new aircraft and newer technologies. The acquisition process needs to be speeded upto make up for lost time.
Indian President Zooms in on Google’s Satellite Images
Indian military analysts are divided over whether Google’s satellite image service, which the president has warned could help terrorists find targets, poses a serious threat to national security.
Indian President Abdul Kalam has raised the alarm over the U.S.-based search engine’s Web site, Google Earth, launched in June. The site allows users to access sophisticated images of sensitive military and political sites.
“I don’t think it poses a security threat,” said C. Uday Bhaskar, the deputy head of the Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses, a military think tank based in New Delhi.
“Satellite pictures are available commercially these days for a price. We have to realize that this is part of technology enabling characteristics of the present times,” he said. “This is the reality and we have to deal with it.”
Indian media reports said the Google satellite service allowed browsers to view high-resolution images of installations such as the Mumbai headquarters of India’s Western Naval Command.
“Users can zoom close enough to take a reasonably good look at the deck of India’s lone aircraft carrier. Browse around and you can stroll past piers where warships of all kinds and submarines are docked,” the Times of India said.
The site contains clear aerial photos of India’s Parliament and the president’s palace in New Delhi, prompting Kalam to sound a warning that he was worried “developing countries, already in danger of terrorist attacks, have been chosen” for exposure.
The Web site provides a limited free service and a paid site that allows users to see major geographic features and towns, according to the company.
Google said it does provide high-resolution images that reveal details of buildings in most major cities in the United States, Western Europe, Canada and Britain.
A spokesman for Kalam said Oct. 17 that the president had asked officers to check “whether the images pose a threat to national security.”
Another senior government official, who did not want to be named, said South Korea, Thailand and some other countries also had expressed concern.
“It is not only India which has reservations about this, others have problems, too,” he said.
An Indian Navy source said the pictures in themselves “do not pose a serious threat to security.”
Another army officer, who wished to remain unidentified, agreed.
“Everyone knows where the (Indian) president’s palace is, everyone knows how many rooms it has — these details are there in school books. As for the location, there is no mystery about that either.”
The officer noted that satellite imagery is not a foolproof tool, and cited the United States’ failure to detect preparations for India’s May 1998 nuclear tests.
“Preparations for the test were begun a month in advance but no one got a whiff of it,” he said.
“But U.S. satellites did pick out that some tanks had been moved close to India’s borders with Pakistan in 2002,” he said referring to a tense nine-month military stand-off between India and Pakistan.
“Washington did ask New Delhi about the tank positions in the summer of 2002,” he recalled.
Russian Defense Minister Reviews Joint Terror Training in India
Russia’s defense minister said Oct. 17 that Moscow wants to sell its most modern weapons to India after reviewing anti-terrorism training exercises here, news reports said.
Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov attended the first joint anti-terror war games with India in the western desert state of Rajasthan with his Indian counterpart where they both escaped injury after a heavy mortar dropped by a plane landed several meters from their platform, Press Trust of India reported.
Ivanov arrived in India overnight to review the war games between the long-time allies in which 1,600 elite Russian troops will take part, the Press Trust of India news agency said.
Ivanov said the two countries plan to collaborate on building advanced fighter jets, warships and submarines, and to conclude a deal on military intellectual property rights by the end of the year, PTI said.
Despite the 1992 breakup of the Soviet Union, Moscow remains New Delhi’s closest military ally and is the source of 70 percent of India’s defense hardware.
The anti-terror exercises, dubbed “Indra-2005”, included hundreds of paratroopers from Russia’s 76th Pskov Airborne Division fresh from operations in Chechnya, the United News of India news agency reported.
Conflict in Kashmir and Chechnya had made India and Russia victims of international terrorism “much before everybody started talking about anti-terror combat”, UNI quoted Ivanov as saying.
Both “had accumulated a rich experience in combating terror and could gain from each others’ experience”, he said.
Ivanov, on a three-day visit, said the intellectual property rights agreement would make it easier to transfer defense technology to India, PTI said.
In addition, Ivanov will witness joint naval maneuvers in the Bay of Bengal with India Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, a defense ministry statement said at the weekend.
The naval exercises, the third in the series since 2003, “will include various surface firing, air defense and anti-submarine warfare exercises,” it said.
World wakes up to Indian Army’s counter-insurgency experience
Somewhere in the Western Sector, Oct. 18. — As terrorism has become the biggest threat the world is facing in the post-9/11 scenario, several countries, including Russia and the USA, are now keen to share India’s “wealth of experience” in countering insurgency.
While the US forces have already taken training at an elite counter-insurgency training institute in India, Russian forces are currently holding their first-ever joint exercise with Indian troops in counter insurgency operations. Several other countries are also keen for joint exercises with the Indian forces.
“Terrorism to countries like the USA is a new thing. But India is facing terrorism for some decades now and our experience in combating it is one of the best. That’s why other countries, including the USA, are keen to train their troops here in counter insurgency,” said a senior Army officer.
In the ongoing joint exercise between India and Russia, the airborne forces of both countries are training with a counter-terrorism backdrop. The exercise on Sunday saw a joint team of forces from both countries attack and destroy a supposed terrorist camp in a third country.
The Russian defence minister, Mr Ivanov Surgey Borisovich, present here on Sunday to watch the exercise, said as both countries are facing terrorism resulting from religious fanaticism, the ongoing exercise is useful and practical. “Both countries have wealth of experience in countering terrorism,” he said.
Chief of the Army Staff, General JJ Singh and Air Chief Marshal, SP Tyagi, were also present on the occasion. Speaking to reporters, Gen. Singh said that as countering terrorism is the joint objective of all peace-loving countries of the world, “experience is being shared by armies to counter terrorism all over the world.”
He said that in the recent past, Indian forces had joint exercises with the US, British and UN forces, apart from ones from Mongolia and Uzbekistan. “Next year, we will go to Russia for a joint exercise,” he added.
The main objective of the Indian-Russian joint exercise, named “Indra 2005” is to establish interoperability between both the armies. In all, 140 army personnel, (60 from Russia, 40 from India) participated in the exercise which began at Agra on 10 October.
Network-Centric warfare with strategic reach was the focus of Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi’s speech this morning at the inauguration of the Air Force Commanders’ Conference here.
The IAF’s conceptual indoctrination of command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, collectively called C4I in the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), is being dovetailed expeditiously in anticipation of assets that will allow the force to have far-reaching strategic capabilities.
The network-centric warfare broadly describes the combination of emerging tactics, techniques and procedures that can be combined through communication systems and computers to create a war-fighting advantage. The IAF is now waiting for assets that will propel it squarely into the next generation of strategic capabilities.
For example, the importance of the IAF’s Frontline Base Strike Units (FBSUs), traditionally armed with air defence and ground-strike jets, will diminish with the roll out of long-range multirole fighters like the Sukhoi-30, capable of refuelling in mid-air and engaging adversaries far beyond the country’s borders.
Also, the integration of three Phalcon Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft will let the force look far and wide for air intruders during peacetime and engage enemy air assets during war.
With a continuous revamp of communications infrastructure to create a seamless superhighway for tactical and battlefield data between commander and the fighting forces, the conference will also discuss the training procedures for officers and airmen that such large-scale upgradations in technology will demand.
To overcome shortcomings brought to the fore by last year's tsunami disaster, Indian Navy plans to augment its strategic sea-lift capability by acquiring huge Landing Platform Docks (LPD) from the United States.
This was indicated by Naval Chief Admiral Arun Prakash, while addressing the Naval Commanders Conference, which began here today.
"One of the major lessons learnt from last year's tsunami was the requirement to augment sea-lift capability. This calls for acquiring large amphibious vessels and the Navy is keenly examining the offer of a LPD by the US Navy under Government- to-Government sales", he said.
India is negotiating purchase of US Navy's 7,050-tonne displacement LPD, 'USS Trenton', at an estimated cost of Rs 200 crores. The ship which can operate a number of giant helicopters simultaneously has still another 15 years of sea-worthy life.
At Present Indian Navy has only two large landing ship tanks, which can only operate a single Seaking helicopter. Navy can modify the LPD to build such larger vessels in India, officials said.
Noting that lack of maritime surveillance punch as another "area of concern", the Naval Chief said Navy was negotiating offers to augment this capability. US Navy has recently offered to lease four P3C Orions to India to train Indian Navy pilots.
The Naval chief said the stellar role played by the force in the aftermath of the tsunami had raised expectations from India in the neighbourhood. "The Navy's diplomatic role has thus expanded. We stand to reap rich dividends in terms of neighbourhood goodwill from such active international role," Prakash said adding it was towards this purpose that the Navy had set up a foreign- relations cell at the Naval Headquarters.
Prakash also told the top Naval Commanders that Government had accorded sanction to increasing the number of civilian employees in the force.
He said about 1,900 civilians would be recruited for the Project Seabird and the new Naval academy at Ezhimala in Kerala, which would raise the civilians workforce in Navy to about 46,000.
The almost week-long conference would take stock of the security scenario around India's coastline, progress in warship-building as well as efforts to make the Navy into a network centric operation force.
Besides, the Flag officers Commanding-in-Chief of three Naval commands, Mumbai-based Western Naval Command, Eastern Naval Command at Vizag and Kochi-based Training command, Principal Staff officers at Naval Headquarters, Chief of the Integrated Defence Staff and Director General of Coast Guard are attending the conference.
Special forces of US, India, Russia to hold exercises
In a significant move, elite Special Forces of US, India, Russia and United Kingdom are to hold for the first time multi-lateral land and air exercises on the Russian soil next year.
"Russia hopes to organise and host such an exercise" Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told newsmen after rounding off his visit to India and his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
Though most of these countries have held bilateral exercises between the special forces, this would be for the first time that such a large scale war game would be held assuming significance against the backdrop of rising threat of urban terorrism.
Russia eyeing serious chance for deal on MiG-29M : Ivanov
Upping Moscow’s claim on the prospects of a deal with India on the MiG-29M multi-role fighter jet , Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has said Russia has a real chance of clinching the multi-billion dollar contract.
Ahead of his departure for India, to observe ‘Indra 2005’, the first-ever Indo-Russian joint anti-terror military manoeuvres, Ivanov told reporters that if the Indian side kept in view the military characteristics, service and price of the MiG-29M aircraft, the decision would be taken in the favour of the Russian jet.
The IAF has sent the Request for Information (RFI) for the deal on the multi-role aircraft to Russian MiG, American F-16 and F-18, French Mirage-2000 and Swedish JAS-39 Grippen. It is expected to send Request for Proposal (RFP) to them, later this year.
Of his agenda when in New Delhi, Ivanov said that it was a “working visit” and he would keep talks on bilateral defence issues for Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee’s November visit to Moscow.
“India is the biggest partner of Russia in military-technical cooperation,” Ivanov said. “The two countries have already far exceeded primitive buyer-seller relations, and are now involved in the joint design, development and production of sophisticated hardware.”
Ivanov went on to stress the urgent necessity of intellectual property rights (IPR) in defence, which are to be signed by India and Russia. Signing the IPR would take mutual defence cooperation to a qualitatively new level, he said. Russia has already submitted its final draft of the agreement to India.
Expressing the hope that the IPR agreement will be signed by the end of year, Ivanov called its lack a “barrier” to the future development of bilateral cooperation. “Unless we have the IPR agreement, it will be impossible to carry on our cooperation to the higher level both sides desire,” he said.
Indian Air Force plans to move fast into Space and focus on Aerospace
Time has come to make the world know what Indian Air Force is capable in Space technologies and Aerospace competition.
India with its growing economy needed to pump in more resources to develop its aerospace power which is set to play a "beyond-the-shore" role in the times ahead, India's Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said on Saturday [15 October].
"No future war can be won without adequate exploitation of aerospace power," Tyagi said at a Second Subroto Mukerjee Seminar on Aerospace Power here.
India's economic boom, the air chief said, would jack up energy demands. "India will get energy hungry. We (too) will need all IAF aircraft to be capable of air-to-air refuelling. We will need more tankers... more means of air surveillance," he said.
"There is no choice but to put more resources in aerospace power. I do believe that out north-centric focus will change and aerospace power will have to play a role beyond shores," the air chief said.
Tyagi said only aerospace power was capable of bringing about a change in what he called a status quo on hilly terrains.
"It is only through the means of aerospace power that you can change the status quo... as the terrain does not permit pumping in of ground forces," he said.
The air chief, however, attributed India's victory in conflicts with Pakistan to coordination between air and ground forces.
Russia has said that absence of an agreement wth India on protection of military intellectual property rights (IPR) has become a "tangible barrier" in joint development of sophisticated weapons and cutting-edge defence technologies but hoped the pact would be signed by year-end.
"Indo-Russian defence cooperation began in 1960 and has been steadily growing for almost fifty years now. India's share in Russia's arms exports amounts to minimum 40 per cent," Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov told PTI on the eve of his four-day visit to India beginning today.
"We have left behind primitive schemes like buyer-seller relationship and have successfully developed Brahmos cruise missiles, multi-role fighters (Su-30MKI), fruitful interaction is underway in naval shipbuilding, but further advance is stalled due to lack of IPR agreement. It has become a barrier, a tangible barrier," he said.
The Russian Defence Minister reminded that this issue was strongly raised during President Vladimir Putin's talks in New Delhi with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during the Indo-Russian summit last December.
"We have dropped our initial demand of its retrospective effect (on Soviet era supplies) and the latest draft of the agreement has been sent to New Delhi for approval," he said, hoping that by the end of this year the inter-governmental would be signed clearing the way for the joint development of sophisticated weapons and cutting-edge defence technologies.
Ivanov is expected to reach New Delhi tonight to watch the active phase of bi-annual Indo-Russian wargames 'Indra-2005' involving elite airborne troops and naval warships on October 16-18 in Rajasthan and Bay of Bengal.
Elite airborne troops from India and Russia will begin Saturday their first joint anti-terrorism exercises.
The exercises are being held against the backdrop of increasing urban terrorism and insurgency.
"The exercise includes storming terrorist hideouts and after parajumping into danger zones in the Thar desert in western Indian state of Rajasthan," said a senior officer of Indian Air Force.
"The troops from both sides will use specialized weapons and communications systems. The exercise will involve crack troops from Russia's 76 Airborne Division, part of Rapid Deployment Force, and the Indian Army's elite 50th Independent Parabrigade," said Brig. Deepak Sinha, commander of Parabrigade.
He said the exercises were being held amid a rise of urban terrorism in both nations.
"The political leadership of the two countries have developed a level of cooperation in countering terrorism and it is natural for out two armies to carry forward this momentum," Sinha said.
The exercise will be held at the Mahajan field near Bikaner in Rajasthan.
Plan for fighter aircraft - Russia wants to team up with India
Russia is keen that India should partner it in developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft as the defence needs of the two countries are similar. The Kremlin firmly believes that this will speed up the process of developing such an aircraft as pooling of enormous resources will facilitate it a great deal. The US, which is also engaged in producing a fifth-generation fighter aicraft, has already spent close to $ 40 billion. Moscow will only be too keen to have India as a trusted partner in this ambitious endeavour.
In this context, the collaboration between the two countries in developing the Brahmos missiles is brought to the fore. There is also a need for the two countries to develop future- generation transport aircraft, specially for the armed forces.
India’s proposal of leasing a second Russian nuclear submarine appears to have receded in the background with the signing of the deal with France for the acquisition of the Scorpene submarines with complete transfer of technology enabling this country to manufacture them at the Mazagaon docks in Mumbai.
“Chakra” was the first nuclear submarine leased from Russia.
While emphasising that it was entirely the Congress-led UPA government’s decision to diversify the country’s defence purchases rather than being wholly dependent on Russia, authoritative sources drew pointed attention to Moscow’s “consistent” policy of not making defence sales to India’s neighbour Pakistan. This despite the fact that Islamabad has made several approaches to Moscow showing keen interest in Russian armaments.
These and other issues are expected to figure at the summit between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh when he visits Moscow in the first week of December. It is scheduled from December 4 to 6 a few days after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in the island state of Malta in the Mediterranean.
In a first of its kind, the armies of India and Russia are presently engaged in a joint exercise in Rajasthan to hone their skills in dealing with the growing menace of international terrorism.
About 80 crack paratroopers of the Russian army are engaged in various exercises specially aimed at demolishing the terrorist infrastructure and wiping out the terrorist elements. Russia believes there is a lot it can learn from India in tackling the problem of terrorism which it has been dealing virtually since Independence. The Russians have arrived in this country with heavy duty equipment and transport aircraft along with the requisite Air Force personnel. These exercises already under way are expected to be spread over 10 days till October 20.
Simultaneously from October 18 to 20, the Indian and Russian navies will hold joint exercises off Visakhapatnam where the Indian Navy’s Eastern Command is based. While the Russian ships of missile cruisers are already close to Indian territorial waters, they will move in on October 18. The Russians will only have surface and other support ships and no submarines. There will be some Indian submarines taking part in the exercises.
Russia’s Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov will arrive here on October 15 and witness the exercises between the two armies the next day and subsequently visit Visakhapatnam.
Interestingly, Russia’s former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, who is currently the Secretary of the Russian Security Council, is arriving here on a three-day visit from October 21. He will hold discussions with National Security Adviser M.K. Narayanan who had paid a brief two-day visit to Moscow immediately after the Prime Minister’s visit to New York last month.
Later from October 26 onwards, External Affairs minister K. Natwar Singh will be in Moscow for the Indo-Russian Joint Commission meeting as well as prepare for Dr Manmohan Singh’s visit to the country for the annual summit between the two countries.
Combat manoeuvres in a supersonic fighter jet expose the pilot to dynamic gravitational forces — or G-forces — which decrease blood pressure in the head. This can lead to loss of vision, 'grey-outs', 'black-outs' or even 'G-LOC' (G-induced loss of consciousness).
But rookie IAF pilots need not worry any longer. After the "Hawk" advanced jet trainers, they will now also have "an advanced human centrifuge" to learn how to handle high G-forces while flying new air-superiority fighters like the Sukhoi-30MKIs.
That's not all. IAF is also inducting three "disorientation simulators" to train pilots in taking corrective actions when faced with spatial disorientation and poor situational awareness during flying, which is a fairly frequent phenomenon.
Director-general of medical services (air) Air Marshal P Bandopadhyay, the first woman to reach the Lt-Gen rank in IAF, told TOI that the contract for the state-of-the-art human centrifuge from Austria, to be installed at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine (IAM) in Bangalore, "has been finally inked".
"This centrifuge (costing around Rs 100 crore) will be fully operational by 2008. Similarly, the first disorientation simulator has now been installed at IAM. The other two will probably be installed at the Hindon airbase and the Air Force Academy to train pilots," she added.
IAF pilots, at the moment, make do with rudimentary G-tolerance training on outdated human centrifuges of 1965-vintage. The new centrifuge will ensure that young pilots learn how to tackle sustained high G-forces and G-onset conditions, comparable to the most advanced fighter jets, while being trained on the ground.
"This, in turn, will enhance their performance in air combat manoeuvres and target-tracking, while maintaining spatial orientation and situational awareness," said an officer.
Apart from features like pilot control and realistic visuals, the new human centrifuge will have a "rate of onset" equal to "15 G per second" as opposed to "2 G per second" of the older model.
This training will especially be relevant for multi-role fighters like Sukhoi-30MKIs, which will be the mainstay of IAF's war-waging potential for the next two decades.
The Sukhoi-30MKIs, incidentally, can undertake mind-boggling manoeuvres due to "a unique combination of canard wings and vectored thrust". The fighter's tremendous manoeuvrability even allows it to shoot up in the air and be still for some time to resemble a cobra with a stretched hood.
Indian Navy imparts submarine training to S African Navy
New Delhi: Indian Navy's submarine training school INS Satvahana has joined the elite club of establishments providing training to friendly foreign navies with a batch of officers of the South African Navy graduating.
Opening a new chapter in the role and responsibility of this premier submarine training establishment, basic submarine training was provided on the Type-209 Diesel-electric patrol submarine to the S African Navy officers from January 31.
According to a Navy spokesman here, the training capsule was designed for combat and technical officers for a period varying from 37 weeks to 53 weeks. The Indian Navy has been training personnel from some 25 friendly foreign countries on a regular basis.
At the valedictory function held at INS Satavahana for the passing out S African Navy officers, Southern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Vice Admiral SCS Bangara awarded certificates and Chief Guest and South African High Commissioner in India S Francis Moloi gave away prizes to the trainee officers and delivered the valedictory address.
Also present on the occasion were Rear Admiral Rauter, Chief Director Maritime Warfare (CDMS) of the South African Navy and senior officers of the Indian Navy, including the Commanding officer of INS Satavahana, Captain TS Ramanujam.
Combat aircraft decision may pivot on nuclear co-operation
After inking the $3.5 billion Scorpene submarines deal last week, the Centre is now all set to shop for 126 multi-role combat aircraft for which Boeing of US, Dassault of France, Russian MiG RAC and probably an Italian company have already been shortlisted.
The move assumes significance as highly placed sources say India is trying to get closer to US and France through the aircraft deal since both these countries have offered civil and nuclear technology cooperation to India.
It is learnt IAF had two months ago placed requests for proposals (RFPs) for the $9 billion 126 multi-role combat aircraft. However, IAF officials declined to name the particular manufacturers to whom it has issued RFPs.
But sources close to the development said that Dassault of France and Boeing are among those who have received RFPs.
Senior IAF officials, however, told FE that the force could issue RFPs to other manufacturers, apart from the initial four, if it thought such a measure was necessary.
RFP is the second stage of acquisition in the procurement process. The initial requests for information (RFIs) had been sent to five manufacturers — US’ Lockheed Martin and Boeing (F-16 and F-18), MiG RAC (MiG-29), Dassault Aviation (Mirage 2000-5) and Sweden’s SaaB (JAS-39 ‘Gripen’).
A few weeks ago, a high-level delegation of Lockheed Martin (F-16s) and Boeing (F-15 and F-18) had come to India to make a presentation to the ministry of defence and the IAF.
According to highly placed sources, the F-16s of Lockheed Martin were never really in the race for the deal. The government had already decided to go in for the Hornets last year. They added that last year itself, the US Department of Defence had given clearance for Raytheon’s APG-63(v)2 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar which is fitted on Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
Boeing officials told FE, “We have offered F/A-18E/F Super Hornet for IAF’s consideration and are also offering the co-production of the Super Hornet in India, subject to US government approval.”
Sources revealed that MoD and IAF were impressed by the capabilities of the presentations made by the Boeing on their fighter aircraft, therefore they have been invited for a second round of discussions during the week. A high-level team from Boeing will be here for another round of presentations.
However, experts are apprehensive about Boeing’s offer. Many argue that the US entity, prone to sanctions regime, cannot be a reliable supplier. A senior DRDO scientist remarked: “If you say you don’t trust the Americans for GE-404 engines, how can you say you trust them for the whole aircraft?”
Former air chief S Krishnaswamy told FE, “There is no doubt that what US has to offer IAF are some of their best machines. But the real concern, apart from the constant fear of sanctions, is the version of the machines being offered.”
Another former air chief AY Tipnis said, “The IAF’s evaluation team will have its hands full doing a comparative analysis. The exercise has become near-impossible with the number of parameters —- performance of airframe, engine, radar, a host of electronic sensors and emitters, displays, ordnance stores (air-to-air and air-to-ground) — to be evaluated having increased manifold.
Air forces presses for creation of new space command
The Indian Air Force (IAF) Thursday urged the government to set up a new Aerospace Command for the military use of space even as it announced plans to acquire a large number of helicopters and transport aircraft.
The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi, emphasised the need for a new command to control and protect India's space-based assets like satellites that would play a key role in future wars.
"The new medium to be exploited in this environment is space. Considering that space is just an extension beyond the medium of air...it is but natural that we are advocating the setting up of an Aerospace Command to exploit the military usage of space," Tyagi told a news conference ahead of Air Force Day Oct 8.
Noting that India was already using space for communications, navigation and reconnaissance and sending a large number of satellites into space, Tyagi said there "would soon be a requirement to safeguard" these assets.
"Therefore, there is a pressing need to set up an organisation that will be dedicated to exploiting space utilisation," he said.
At the same time, he announced the IAF was keen on purchasing a large number of medium lift transport aircraft and 80 multi-role medium lift helicopters, most of which would primarily be used for the force's growing role in aiding the civil administration during emergencies and natural disasters like the Dec 26 tsunami.
Tyagi pointed out the IAF had airlifted 54,000 people and carried 1,500 tonnes of relief materials after the tsunami and heavy snowfall in the Kashmir Valley early this year - marking a four-fold increase in such operations over the previous year. IAF planes also carried relief to tsunami-hit Asian nations and the US after Hurricane Katrina.
The IAF chief also asserted that India's growing energy needs "necessitated enhancement of strategic reach" and the purchase of "weapons with strategic reach".
Towards this end, the IAF was looking at buying more air-to-air refuelling jets that could double as cargo planes as well as helicopters and transport aircraft.
Tyagi said his force was looking for medium lift transport aircraft that fitted in between its Russian-made An-32s capable of lifting five tonnes and Il-76s that can carry up to 50 tonnes.
"We want to join hands with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to produce (a 15-20 tonne class transport aircraft)," he said, noting there was a demand for similar aircraft in India's burgeoning civil aviation sector.
"These can be converted into 100-seat aircraft for civilian use."
At the same time, The IAF is carrying a study to decide whether to refurbish its ageing fleet of An-32s that was acquired about 20 years ago. The study will ascertain how much longer the An-32s, of which the IAF has about 80, can be kept flying.
The armed forces appear to have lost interest in the Prithvi ballistic missile — the first success story in the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme — and are in favour of inducting the short-range version of the Agni missile.
Apart from reservations over Prithvi's accuracy, the Army is unhappy with the efficacy of its warheads and the cumbersome process of filling them prior to launch. As a result, it wants to go in for the "Agni A-1" missile that was tested successfully over a year ago.
Agni A-1 missiles are filled with a more stable solid fuel and do not require an easily detectable logistical train of vehicles and a complement of defence scientists to oversee the fuelling as in the case of the liquid fuel-based Prithvi I and II. Also, its range gives defence planners more options, sources said.
The Air Force too is not keen on acquiring the missiles though the Prithvi-II was developed for its exclusive use. The IAF recently decided to sendsome of its frontline Sukhoi fighters back to Russia to ascertain whether their wings could be strengthened to carry the Indo-Russian Brahmos cruise missile.
Only the Navy sees a future for the Prithvi in its battle plans. It is involved in the development of a submarine launched version called Sagarika, which was successfully tested earlier this year. But the project is still in the early stages.
With the current naval base leaving no scope for further expansion, the Indian Navy has decided to develop a new naval base for the Eastern Naval Command (ENC) at an investment of about Rs 1,500 crore. The new naval base will come up at Rambili area, near the existing naval base.
Addressing mediapersons, vice-admiral OP Bansal, flag officer and commanding-in-chief, ENC, said, “The current naval base at Visakhapatnam has become congested and there is no space for further expansion. Hence, we are going to set up an alternative naval base at Rambilli. The Indian Navy is spending close to Rs 1,500 crore for the first phase of works.”
The Indian Navy requires about 3,000 acres of land to set up the alternative base. The land acquisition has been completed and the first phase of the project will be ready in three to four years, he added.
Bansal said that ENC is adding five more new warships to its fleet during the next fiscal. ENC currently has 15 warships in its fleet, and a couple of them will be decommissioned next year. “We will be adding two missile boats, two landing ship tanks and a fast attack craft to the eastern fleet,” he said.
The Navy is also constructing six submarines at Mezagon Dock with technical support from the French government. “These will be built at an investment of about $3 billion and the first submarine will join the eastern fleet by 2009,” Bansal said. ENC, at present, has six submarines.
Bansal said that the Vizag airport expansion would be completed during next year. “Of the total project cost of Rs 191 crore, Indian Navy is contributing around Rs 175 crore. Once the project is completed, Vizag would see a significant growth,” he said.
Due to poor response from private partners, the proposed Rs 5-crore warship museum project at Visakhapatnam beach has been called off for the time being, Bansal said.
“The Indian Navy and the Russian Navy will jointly conduct a three-day naval exercise at the Bay of Bengal in a big way this month. In February 2006, the Navy will be organising a Presidential Parade, for which President APJ Abdul Kalam will be in Vizag,” he informed.
India has developed an indigenous tactical battlefield command, control, communication and surveillance system which is in the process of being validated in army exercises, according to Lt Gen S Pattabhiraman, the new vice chief of the Army staff.
"We have developed a new TAC C3I system, comparable to any western army and this has already been validated during war games conducted by the Western Army Command," Pattabhiraman told reporters soon after assuming charge in New Delhi.
He said with the development of the new generation system, army battlefield command and control as well as communication and surveillance system would now be more secure and less susceptible to outside jamming.
He said the new system would be further tested during the forthcoming series of war games in the Thar desert for its full validation and induction into the armed forces.
Dont go on about pushing India: Media to US lawmakers
India's vote in favour of the IAEA resolution on Iran nuclear programme was an "encouraging and significant" step which indicated the evolving nature of US-India relationship, a leading US daily on Sunday said, while warning some American officials and lawmakers against creating the appearance of having pressurised New Delhi for its stance.
Asking legislators like Congressman Tom Lantos not to "brag" about 'pushing' India and advising American officials to avoid the crude appearance of a quid pro quo of Indian vote for access to US civilian nuclear technology, The Washington Times said India had surprised even the most vigilant observers when it sided with the US and the EU on the issue.
"India's position at the IAEA regarding Iran is encouraging and significant, illustrating that concerns over Iran's programme do not emanate from Washington and Europe alone," it said in an editorial, adding, "The move also indicates that the young US-Indian friendship is evolving."
US officials, it advised, should publicly avoid the appearance of a crude quid pro quo. "If the Indian Government is seen by its citizens as doing the bidding of the Bush Administration, it will suffer politically and may not vote with the US and EU come November (when the issue of referring Iran to UN Security Council will come up again).
Noting that Indian Communists have publicly opposed confronting Iran at the IAEA, the paper said "unfortunately, California Democrat Tom Lantos has made it more difficult for India to vote the right way next time."
"Lantos boasted of the pressure he put on India's Foreign Minister over the Iranian programme when he visited Washington in early September, and suggested that he single-handedly succeeded in getting the Indians to change their position."
U.S., India participate in Malabar 2005 training exercise
By Juliana Gittler, Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Monday, October 3, 2005
More than 6,500 U.S. sailors and other personnel are in India taking part in Malabar 2005, the Navy reported.
The Sept. 26-Oct. 5 exercise is part of the Navy’s new anti-submarine warfare training. The two navies will conduct at-sea maneuvers off India’s southwest coast and make port visits, according to a Navy release.
They’ll practice search and seizure and maritime interdiction, force protection, formation steaming and coordinated gunfire. They also will train to integrate submarine, surface and air anti-submarine warfare capabilities.
Participants include the San Diego-based USS Nimitz Strike Group, destroyers USS Higgins and USS Chafee and the attack submarine USS Santa Fe. At the centre of the Indian fleet is the aircraft carrier Viraat and the warship Mysore, which are equipped with remote controlled missiles. The aim of the exercises, is to understand the level of inter-operability between the US and Indian units, the sources said. The American side is led by Comodore John Smith while leading the Indian units is Admiral S.P.S. Cheema.
Other groups participating are carrier-based aircraft and P-3C maritime patrol and reconnaissance planes.
This is the seventh Malabar exercise, the Navy reported.
As part of the exercise, sailors will have the chance to visit the city of Goa to take part in cultural relations and other programs with Indian sailors and communities.
The 7th Fleet typically participates in more than 100 exercises each year with about 15 countries. Malabar is one of several exercises conducted with the Indian Navy.
By Dinesh C. Sharma Sparks continue to fly over the Indian vote against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna on September 28. India's decision to go with the United States and European Union on the issue of referring Iran's nuclear program to the United Nations has been welcomed in the U.S., and predictably so.
But on the domestic front, the government has drawn severe criticism from its close allies -- the communist parties. While some criticism was expected because of the known anti-America stance of the leftist parties, holding Prime Minister Manmohan Singh responsible for the action has raised eyebrows.
The left parties, on whose support Dr. Singh depends for survival, have launched scathing attacks on him for his supposedly pro-American stance.
What has added fuel to the fire are revelations in the media that India had assured the U.S. in July itself about its commitment to vote against Iran.
It was around this time that Dr. Singh was in Washington to sign the path-breaking nuclear deal with President George W. Bush. Newspaper reports, based on transcripts of the proceedings in the House International Relations Committee of the U.S. Congress, have claimed that the anti-Iran vote at IAEA was part of the “reciprocal” assurances given by India, in return for nuclear cooperation with the U.S.
Leading the tirade against Dr. Singh and his government is the leader of Marxist party, Prakash Karat. All along, he said, India had maintained that Iran should be allowed to develop nuclear technology while sticking to its international obligations and those under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Foreign Minister Natwar Singh, in his recent visit to Teheran, had reaffirmed this and stated that the issue should be resolved within the IAEA framework only.
So, the vote against Iran was an Indian U-turn taken under American pressure, Mr. Karat alleged.
“By voting with the U.S., India is becoming party to another infamous exercise in intimidation and coercion against a country with which it has friendly relations and vital energy stakes,” the Marxist party supremo said.
However, the Indian government has denied that the vote will have any impact on the proposed Iran-India gas pipeline and the recent deal on liquefied natural gas. The Iranian embassy's spokesperson in New Delhi has also said the pipeline and other energy deals with India will remain unaffected.
But independent observers feel that the pipeline deal may be in jeopardy because the U.S. had been opposed to it from the beginning itself. Dr. Singh himself expressed doubts about its financial viability during his visit to Washington in July. This surprised many, as it virtually put cold water on the ambitious energy plan. At that time, the statement, made on American soil, was also seen as part of the nuclear quid pro quo with the U.S.
The leftist parties have made it clear that they would like the Indian government to undo the damage caused by its vote.
They want India to state at the next board meeting of IAEA that Iran's is not a case fit for reference to the UN Security Council.
Taking the left's opposition seriously, the government has launched damage-control measures. In a note circulated among leftist parties, the government has tried to explain its position. It contends that India's support to the resolution at IAEA, despite its reservations, was to avoid a confrontation between Iran and Western countries and to buy some diplomatic space to hold negotiations in the intervening period.
But these parties maintain that India should have abstained and not voted in favor of the resolution.
It may be surprising to note that Dr. Singh is facing all the flak from his own allies, and the criticism from the main opposition party, Bhartiya Janata Party has been rather muted.
The BJP has pointed out to fringe issues like transparency. It said that the opposition was not consulted on this important issue, particularly when it involved a change in India's traditional stance of remaining non-aligned at international forums.
By asking the government to reverse its stand at the next IAEA meeting, the Marxists have made their intentions clear that they will continue to harp on this issue. Mr. Karat, secretary-general of the Marxist Communist Party, is a hardliner and capable of resorting to arm-twisting tactics.
The Singh government has had to put on hold disinvestments of state-owned companies, following sustained pressure from Mr. Karat's and other leftist parties. They are also opposed to opening up the retail sector to foreign direct investment. And this is holding back the government from going ahead with it. If Dr. Singh buckles under pressure from the left on the Iran issue, he may not be able to get the promised nuclear cooperation from the U.S.
Under the deal he signed with President Bush, reciprocity is key to steps like the lifting of sanctions against Indian defense and nuclear entities and support to join the international thermonuclear experiment, ITER.
In fact, a team from ITER is slated to visit next week to examine India's claim to join the international nuclear fusion experiment. Support of U.S. and its European allies is crucial for India to become part of ITER.
U.S.-INDIA: PACT TO FIGHT TERRORISM AND GLOBAL CRIME
Mumbai, 4 Oct. (AKI) - India and the United States have signed a pact to coordinate the fight against every form of international crime, starting with terrorism. The Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty outlines various levels of cooperation in investigations and in legal issues on a much wider scale, covering every form of transnational crime, from terrorism to drug trafficking, and money laundering to tax fraud. Official sources in New Delhi said the deal had been signed by internal affairs secretary V.K. Duggal and by Washington's ambassador to India, David C. Mulford.
American diplomatic sources said the accord confirms the convergence of strategic interests between the US and India, which in recent years has shown itself to be a key ally in Washington's "war on terror" following the 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil.
Washington has to date penned similar coordination pacts with 15 other countries. Sitgning with India, according to US ambassador Mulford, represents a "very very important step forward" in relations between Washington and New Delhi.
For a soldier operating under the cover of darkness in enemy territory, the biggest challenge is navigation due to unfamiliar territory and lack of easily identifiable landmarks on ground. However, global positioning system (GPS), an interesting and useful technology to emerge in the last few years, is fast transforming military capabilities of nations throughout the world.
Closer home, a new hi-tech PDA with a GPS antenna to display military maps and location of other devices, prepares Indian soldiers for the 21th century battlefield. Till now, the Indian Army’s Saathi, a robust tactical GPS-enabled PDA with an integrated radio and a customised GIS application, accelerated the military advances of ground forces. Recently, Encore Software, a Bangalore-based product development company, joined hands with UK-based Sarantel to introduce new features such as precision location data in Saathi, thereby leveraging the potential of the GPS technology. Sarantel boasts of being a leading innovator in the design and manufacture of miniature antennas for portable and mobile wireless devices.
Essentially, the Sarantel GPS antenna will ensure that every Indian soldier with a Saathi, weighing no more than 875 gm, has optimum GPS reception across all environments and locations. The compact Saathi can easily fit into a soldier’s palm. It has a remotely operated self-destruction and activation feature for preventing misuse if it falls into an unauthorised persons’ hands. Encore Software, which has been behind the creation of the PDA, integrated Sarantel’s miniature GPS antenna in the Saathi to ensure that soldiers have stable GPS reception in unstable conditions. Sarantel’s GPS antenna does not confirm to any standard for rugged devices. It can also operate in ambient temperatures in the range of -10 deg C to 50 Deg C, and is water and dust resistant.
“Around 90 devices were supplied in March 2004 to the Indian Army for field trials. Subsequently, orders have been placed for another 390 units. In addition, approval for purchase of about 1,000 units has been obtained,” says Mark Mathais, president of Encore Software. It is seen that conventional antennas detune and become inefficient when in contact with RF-absorbing materials like the soldier’s hand or head. However, a key benefit of integrating Sarantel’s GPS antenna is that it ensures always-on frequency on the Saathi, Mr Mathais adds.
“GPS is an invaluable tool for the ground forces. The Sarantel GPS antenna provides superior reception in extreme conditions and enables soldiers to carry out their duties without having to worry about GPS performance,” says Oliver Leisten, CTO of Sarantel. The Sarantel antenna also works in random orientations because of the antenna’s omni-directional capability. This important capability removes the burden on soldiers to think about orienting their PDAs in order to achieve reliable performance, he adds.
According to Joe Murray, president, Asia Pacific, Sarantel, Encore’s position in India’s electronics industry is strong, and their military PDA design has potential beyond India. Even as the rapid progress in IT transforms military capabilities, it is becoming clear that information warfare will likely emerge as a new combat area. For the time being, Sarantel’s wireless equipment will transform the homegrown PDA into a navigation instrument and meet the information requirements of Indian soldiers.
India's Ostpolitik involving the ASEAN and the ‘‘rimland’’ states farther afield — like Japan and South Korea — has been a success in great part because of naval diplomacy.
Indian naval flotillas steaming into Asian ports, dropping anchor at Limpopo to showcase Indian designed missile destroyers, holding annual joint exercises in the Andaman Sea with the smaller littoral navies, exercising offshore during extended ‘‘goodwill’’ tours with the host country’s naval vessels and, generally, establishing a presence in proximal as well as distant seas constantly reminds these states of India’s strategic importance.
The legendary Singapore leader Lee Kwan Yew referred to India and China as the two wings of a giant airplane. Without either of them, Asia, he implied, could not fly.
What he tactfully left unsaid, but most Asian countries on China’s periphery believe, is that their security depends on the emergence of a militarily strong India as counterweight — because, notwithstanding its security commitments, in a crisis the United States can always choose to withdraw behind the moat of the Pacific Ocean.
The pillars of an obvious and enduring Indian security architecture, if only the Indian government had the wit to envision it, are Israel and a Trucial State, like Oman, in the west and, in the east, ASEAN and Vietnam in China’s ‘‘soft underbelly’’, and Taiwan and Japan on the Chinese flank.
Beijing may be apprehensive of a resurgent Japan but, of all the states on its border, it is most respectful of a militarily scrappy Vietnam, which prides itself on successfully fighting off the Chinese hegemon for ‘‘a thousand years’’. And most recently in 1979 gave the invading Chinese armies a bloody nose, which compelled Deng Xiaoping to do the prudent thing — speedily declare victory and get the hell out!
BY cultivating a resolute Vietnam as a close regional ally and security partner in the manner China has done Pakistan, India can pay Beijing back in the same coin.
China has strategically discomfited India and sought to ‘‘contain’’ it to south Asia by arming Pakistan with nuclear weapons and missiles. Militarily to focus on Pakistan — the Chinese cat’s paw — as India has done is unwise. The cat can be more effectively dealt with by enabling Vietnam — a smaller but spirited tomcat — to rise militarily as a consequential state in China’s immediate neighbourhood.
In the short term, this should reasonably be the prime Indian strategic objective.
An opportunity will arise on October 3, when a defence delegation led by Lt General Nguyen Thinh, head of the Vietnamese Defence Research Centre — the counterpart of India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation — begins its Indian trip. General Thinh is expected to ask for Indian help and technical assistance in acquiring a missile production capability.
The problem is the Vietnamese want the Brahmos cruise missile, with which they promise to keep the Chinese Navy on the defensive in the South China Sea and the approaches to the Malacca Straits. This is an esteemable mission. The Indian government, acting sensibly, should help Vietnam achieve it.
But the Brahmos, entering production stage, will have to be first inducted in goodly numbers in the Indian order-of-battle before a surplus can be generated for friendly states. And, in any case, technology transfer may be infeasible, at least initially.
BUT there is the proven short-range Prithvi missile, with impressive accuracy, that India can part with because, with the family of Agni missiles in the fray, it has become redundant.
The Prithvi in the arsenal highlights the Indian nuclear deterrent’s limited reach and clout and is something of an embarrassment. And deployed on the western border with Pakistan, it is destabilising. It can be give to the Vietnamese without in any way weakening the country’s security.
Moreover, the Integrated Defence Staff, which favours it over the Brahmos even in naval missions, can pass on advice for using the Prithvi, other than in land-based operations, in the sea-surface sanitising mode the Vietnamese envisage. Further, the transaction for the sub-300 km range Prithvi is permissible under the Missile Technology Control Regime.
In exchange for the conventional warheaded Prithvi now and the promise of more advanced missiles and other such strategic cooperation in the future, Hanoi should be persuaded to allow the Indian Navy a basing option in Cam Ranh Bay, unarguably the finest natural deep water harbour in Asia, to match the planned Chinese naval presence in Gwadar on the Baluchistan coast. This, in turn, can be bottled up by the IAF active out of the former RAF base at Gan, leased from the Maldives government.
BUT Cam Ranh Bay is a heady attraction for the United States and China as well. Vietnam has turned down such approaches essentially because it distrusts them. In the past, when the Indian Navy requested access to Cam Ranh Bay, the Vietnamese pleaded this would upset the big powers. However, the offer of missiles and other such strategic cooperation should prevail over Vietnam’s inhibitions.
The crucial question is: has the MEA the imagination to push this deal? Burdened by its pusillanimous take on diplomacy, which pooh-poohs military means of furthering national interest, for instance, it stopped the sale of second-hand corvettes and fast patrol craft to Mauritius and the Seychelles, forcing the navy to gift these in order to maintain goodwill.
Worse, the MEA seems a laggard in strategic thinking. Its attitude was reflected in the response then foreign secretary K. Raghunath gave to the (first) National Security Advisory Board.
To a question about India’s playing the ‘‘Vietnam card’’, he replied: ‘‘It is not practical.’’ That was six odd years ago. With all the strategic goings-on it has since been party to, one hopes the Foreign Office is a bit more canny these days.
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