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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.
India, Russia to finalise $600 mn fighter deal
India is expected to finalise a $600 million deal for swapping 18 Su-30K and Su-30MK fighters with the latest version of Su-30MKI during Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi's week-long visit to Russia beginning today. During his Russia tour, first as an air chief, Tyagi is to hold talks with the Chief of Russian General Staff and other senior defence officials.

He is also scheduled to visit MiG and Sukhoi corporations and Siberian plant of IRKUT corporation, the main supplier of state-of-the-art Su-30MKI multirole fighters, specially designed for IAF. During Irkutsk visit, Tyagi is expected to finalise the $600 million deal for swapping 18 older Su-30K and Su-30MK fighters with the latest version of Su-30MKI.

The air chief is also scheduled to watch demonstration flight of the latest MiG fighter Moscow intends to field against US F-16 in the Indian tender for the acquisition of 126 fighters. Tyagi would be the first senior foreign official to watch the demonstration flight of MiG-29OVT at Zhukovsky airbase near Moscow, Kommersant daily reported.

During his visit to St. Petersburg, the air chief is to visit Aerospace Equipment Corporation and aircraft engine factories Klimov and Krasny Oktyabr involved in Indian deals. Tyagi is visiting the country at the invitation of his Russian counterpart.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:10 AM


After Hawk AJTs for air force, will it be Goshawk for navy?
The US is offering to the Indian Navy the latest version of its T-45C Goshawk trainer aircraft, the naval version of the British BAe Hawk that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is purchasing.

Boeing, which manufactures the Goshawk in collaboration with BAe Systems, sent a high-level team to India last week to formally offer this aircraft, in addition to the F-18 Super Hornet that it wants to sell to the IAF to meet its multi-role combat aircraft (MRCA) requirement of 126 jets.

Chris Chadwick, Boeing's vice president and general manager for global strike systems, said India was wide on the US horizon and that the best of American technology was on offer in view of the newly emerging strategic equations between the two countries.

Cooperation between the two countries could cover the latest equipment for the Indian Army, Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force - as well as space.

India needs trainers for the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov that it is buying from Russia. Ironically, as the Russians could not extend carrier landing training to the Indian Navy, it had to go to the US - and that has provided Washington the opportunity to offer the Goshawk to the Indian Navy.

Thirty-two Indian Navy pilots have been assigned to receive carrier takeoff-and-landing training at the US Navy's Pensacola Naval Air Station, Florida, where all US naval pilots are given initial and advanced training. The Indian pilots are being sent in batches of four, beginning earlier this year.

The US is looking for "interoperability" with the Indian forces for commonality in weapons and systems. It was with this in view that the Pentagon offered to train Indian naval pilots.

New Delhi had to accept the offer as Russia was unable to come up with carrier deck training. Admiral Gorshkov is due for delivery to the Indian Navy in 2008 along with a complement of 16 MiG 29K carrier-based fighters.

Boeing says that as the IAF is buying 66 Hawk advanced jet trainers (AJTs) from Britain, it would be cost-effective for the Indian Navy to go in for the Goshawk as there is a substantial commonality of parts between them. Rolls Royce's Adour engines power both aircraft, and although they are different models, many of their sub-assemblies are common.

Adour engines also power the IAF fleet of Jaguars that are made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

The US Navy had selected the Hawk for training its pilots but as deck-based operations need sturdier airframes, the aircraft was suitably modified. The latest model T-45C has digital avionics and its training programme covers classroom instructions to simulators, initial and advanced carrier-based operations. The aircraft can also carry some weapons if required.

Boeing is responsible for the forward fuselage and stabilizers, assembly and systems integration, production test flights and maintenance. BAe produces the wings and the centre and rear fuselage while Rolls Royce makes the engines.

Some 170 Goshawks have been delivered to the US Navy, with 100 more in the pipeline. It is likely to be in operation beyond 2030.

As for the Indian Navy, its pilots have so far received advanced training on Harrier jump jets.

Unlike the AJTs for the IAF, two-thirds of which would be made in India under licence at HAL, the navy's requirement of trainer aircraft should not normally exceed a squadron, or about 20. Thus they are likely to be purchased outright.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:09 AM


The Bush administration is trying to enlist Tokyo's support for its controversial decision to back India's civilian nuclear power development.
India will sign a defence deal with Russia within a fortnight under which 18 Sukhoi-30K fighter jets it had purchased earlier from Moscow will be exchanged for the latest su-30 MKI multi-role war planes.

A spokesperson of Irkut Corporation, the manufacturer of Sukhoi jets, said the trade-in contract would be signed within a fortnight. However, she declined to reveal the value of the deal.

As per the deal 18 su-30k jets with limited capabilities, supplied in late 1990s to the Indian Air Force (IAF) would be bought back by Russia and the similar number of latest fighters would be shipped into India.

Russian defence expert Konstantin Makiyenko said Irkut will supply 18 Su-30MKI jets specially tailored for the IAF, while older jets received from it will be upgraded for deployment in Belarus along the border with NATO.

In 2004 Russia had completed the supply of 40 Su-30 fighters and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited has already launched the assembling of its latest version under licence for the production of 140 jets.

The Sukhoi license deal provides the full transfer of technology to HAL, including indigenous production of thrust-vectoring engines, a privilege denied to China under a similar deal.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:09 AM


U.S. urges ally Japan to back India nuke pact
The Bush administration is trying to enlist Tokyo's support for its controversial decision to back India's civilian nuclear power development.

U.S. President George W. Bush will broach the issue with Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi at their June 29 summit meeting in Washington, sources said.

Koizumi is among Bush's staunchest allies, but it is not clear how far he will go to express support for the U.S.-India agreement.

Some officials are concerned the deal would further undermine the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Others say that Japan, as the only nation to have had atomic weapons used against it, should not give its backing.

India has conducted nuclear weapons tests, but it has not signed the NPT.

U.S. officials argue that the nonproliferation structure has been strengthened because India is allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect its civilian nuclear facilities. That agreement was a precondition to India's purchase of nuclear technology and fuel from the United States.

However, the U.S.-India deal does not cover inspections of India's military facilities, leading to concerns that nuclear weapons would effectively be placed outside of the international arms control structure.

Japanese government sources said U.S. officials asked for an expression of support soon after the deal was signed on March 2.

Japan has not stated its official position, but government officials are considering issuing a statement of "basic understanding" of the agreement.

Among points in favor of Japan expressing its support are that the deal enables inspections of India's civilian nuclear facilities, thus strengthening the nonproliferation structure. The agreement would boost India's economic growth. Britain and France have already expressed their support.

However, some government officials are concerned about the lack of guarantees that IAEA inspectors will be able to carry out their inspections in India.

In addition, they worry that nuclear technology developed in India's civilian sector could be converted to military purposes.

Some officials think Japan should delay any expression of support until the July Group of Eight meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia, which Britain and France will also attend.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:08 AM


Indo-UK Naval exercises underway
A British nuclear task force is engaging the Indian navy in the biggest naval exercises between the two sides in four decades.

'Konkan 2006' is a sign of just how important India is being seen as a major international military force.

Exercises like these, which were unthinkable till a few years ago, reflect the new strategic equation between India and countries like the UK and the US.

Today, western powers are going out of their way to cultivate India.

Action in Arabian Sea

The cutting edge of the Indian Navy - including the destroyer Mumbai, the frigates Brahmaputra and Ganga and the submarine Shankush - are in the thick of action in the Arabian Sea, taking on powerful and state of the art warships.

“These exercises would not have happened a few years back. It is a sign of the changing times. India and the UK are strategic partners,” said Sir Michael Arthur, British High Commissioner.

Apart from war games, this is a demonstration of Britain's state-of-the-art helicopter EH 101 - one that they are hoping India will buy.

But a greater attraction for India are the British sea harrier jets.

The Indian navy, which already uses the jets, is looking at buying more, and price negotiations are underway.

"The Indian Navy is extremely capable. We don't do this sort of exercise with just anyone, but we are entirely comfortable operating with the Indians," said Bob Cooling, Commander of HMS Illustrious.

Perhaps that sense of comfort is because both countries use common war machines like the sea harriers.

But the exercises, dubbed War At Sea, aren't designed for a comfort zone.

Instead, the war games are testing the fighting skills of the thousands of personnel involved in Konkan 2006.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:06 AM


Indian Army open to source equipment from US
The Indian Army is open to source military technology and equipment from the United States if they were best in the class, Indian Army Chief J. J. Singh said Saturday.

Asked whether the army would shop for military equipment, including arms from the U.S. in the light of an upswing in the Indo-U.S. relations, Singh said while efforts would be made to source the requirements indigenously, the army would like the equipment to be produced in the country with technology from outside.

"Our first preference is to source indigenously or get the equipment produced within the country by the public or private sector with technology from outside. If nothing can be done, we would like to meet our requirements from outside," Indo-Asian News Service quoted Singh as saying.

We are happy to receive equipment, which is in its best class from any source, including the U.S. But it will have to be a government decision, Singh said after flagging off the newly manufactured bogie flat Arjun tank carrier wagons of military rail at the Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML) facility in Bangalore.

He said the Indian Army would begin field trials of the indigenous main battle tank (MBT) Arjun in a month or two along with its T-72 battle tanks.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:06 AM


Indian navy going ahead with the construction of an additional naval base about 60 km south of Visakhapatnam
Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Arun Prakash said on Wednesday [24 May] that the navy was going ahead with the construction of an additional naval base about 60 km south of Visakhapatnam.

"The Vizag port is getting crowded and the channel has become narrow. We have acquired roughly 5,000 acres of land with the help of the state government. Negotiations are on with the villagers on their relocation and payment of compensation," Admiral Prakash told mediapersons after presenting gallantry and service medals to naval personnel at the Eastern Command headquarters here.

The additional base will come up some 32 km south of Gangavaram port, where a consortium is building a port. Several naval experts have voiced concern over the threat to security from having a private port so close to the naval base. Now, the Gangavaram port will have the Eastern Command 28 km to the north of it, and the new base 32 km to the south.

The navy, however, has previously told the government that it sees no threat from the Gangavaram port. A senior official of the Indian navy said that new base was still in the conceptual stage. It would have a separate harbour and channel into the sea, the present channel at the Visakhapatnam port being totally choked by cargo and defence ships and submarines. The additional base will have all the operations on par with the existing naval base.

The 5,000 acres will be acquired to the south of the city under Rambilli, Nakkapalli and Yelamanchali mandals of the district. A revenue official said that the state government had already identified the land and the negotiations were on with the villagers on relocation and payment of compensation. Admiral Prakash thanked the state government for allotting 5,000 acres of land for the expansion of the Eastern Command. Admiral Prakash also said that the navy would have two aircraft carriers with escort and support ships and submarines to make it a blue water force by 2015.

"We have submitted all the proposals to the government." Pointing out that the navy had got 17.5 per cent of the total defence budget, he said, "We have already placed the orders with the shipyards and they (aircraft carriers) will be ready by 2015." Admiral Prakash said that during his two-day visit to the Eastern Naval Command, he had reviewed the security situation, assessed the assets and reviewed emerging situations in Sri Lanka.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:04 AM


India shelves ambitious nuclear missile program
NEW DELHI - Has the Agni III, India's most ambitious nuclear-capable ballistic-missile program, been aborted or merely put in cold storage? Keen to impress the world community of its peaceful intentions in its quest to obtain nuclear fuel and technology from the United States, France, Canada and Australia, it seems that New Delhi has made up its mind to shelve plans for big military-power credentials for now.

The government has decided to cancel the first test-firing of an Indian inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), one with a range of 4,000 kilometers (some say up to 6,000km), which is sufficient to reach China and capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

Pressure from the US and others cannot be discounted. The United States has always been very suspicious about India's Agni program, and in 1994 persuaded it to suspend testing of the missile after three test flights. The US-backed Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) seeks to prevent the proliferation of missiles capable of delivering a 500-kilogram payload over distances of 300km and more.

India has been subjected to sanctions since it exploded a nuclear device at Pokhran in 1974 and turned into a full-fledged nuclear-weapons state through a series of underground tests in May 1998. Nor has India (or Pakistan) signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The restrictions have been eased over the past few years, partly because of Washington's strategic shift toward India, the influence of business interests (India's nuclear market is considered to be worth more than US$100 billion), and India's record as a "responsible nation" with a strong democratic traditions. It culminated in the Indo-US nuclear-energy cooperation deal this March.

However, it has also come to light that as part of the March pact (the contents of which were leaked to the media) Washington has been insisting that New Delhi agree to a future moratorium on testing of dual-use (nuclear or conventional warheads) missile technology and the testing another atomic bomb.

India has rejected such a commitment as a back-door entry to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. India has not signed the CTBT, as it feels that the treaty came into existence after those who possessed nuclear weapons had perfected the know-how. But at this delicate time, India is also keen not to annoy the United States and the US-backed 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) scheduled to deliberate on the issue next week in Brazil.

Some experts think that India's restrained approach as a nuclear power puts the country at a geopolitical disadvantage, as any mere symbolic capability is a liability. "For us to start acting as if we're a nuclear-weapons state may have it costs, because someone may end up believing you. And, as I say, if someone believes that you're a threat, then he may be moved to take some preemptive action,'' said analyst Bharat Karnad on CNN-IBN.

However, the thinking in New Delhi is different. The consensus holds that India now has a minimum credible nuclear deterrence in place, and so the Agni III should rest for a while. Given the acute electrical-power situation in the country, it could be a worthwhile tradeoff. In any case, it will not be possible for India to beat China in a nuclear-arms race for a long time.

This week Anil Kakodkar, chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission, said plans are in place to double the electricity production from nuclear power plants by 2030. "We are trying to realize the target of 20,000 megawatts and scale it up to 40,000MW by 2030, with the possibility of international cooperation," he said.

The importance to the nuclear pact that will make India eligible for supplies of enriched uranium to generate power became apparent in a roundabout way. At a recent event attended by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee, M Natarajan, who is the scientific adviser to the government, said, "We are technically ready for the test-firing of the Agni III missile [since January]. We are awaiting a nod from the government.''

However, New Delhi, mindful of international reactions especially at the upcoming NSG and the ongoing wrangles at the US Congress, which is debating the Indo-US nuclear pact for legislation, has quickly said it has canceled the tests. Mukherjee, who is also a proponent of improved Sino-Indian ties and is slated to visit China this month, said, "As responsible members of the international community, we want to keep our international commitments on non-proliferation. We have no pressure on us, nor are we putting any political pressure. It is just that we have decided to have self-imposed restraint.''

New Delhi has further reiterated that it did not postpone the test-firing of Agni III under US pressure. Such decisions, it said, were based on its assessment of national-security needs. "Decisions concerning the country's strategic program, including the development and testing of different classes of missiles, are based on technical factors and a continuous review and assessment of our overall security environment,'' a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.

So far, India has developed the 150-300km Prithvi and the 700-800km Agni I missiles, which are aimed at Pakistan and have been inducted into military service. In response, Pakistan has its own arsenal, including the 750km-range Shaheen I and 1,500km Ghauri-I ballistic missiles believed to be derivatives of the Chinese M-9 and North Korean Nodong missiles.

Last year, Pakistan successfully test-fired its first cruise missile. India has its own cruise missile, BrahMos, with a 300km strike range, believed to be similar to the US Tomahawk cruise missile, which was widely used in Iraq and Afghanistan. China's ballistic missiles are, of course, far more advanced and are said to cover most of the world.

Agni II (2,000km-plus, also inducted) and Agni III are seen as nuclear deterrents aimed at China. Agni III is said to be able to deliver a 200-300kg warhead with a high degree of accuracy. The longest-range, surface-to-surface Agni III has reportedly been ready for launch for two years, but the tests have been repeatedly postponed.

India's military capabilities and arsenal are developed by the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO), which works in close coordination with space and nuclear-power institutions. At one level the announcement by Natarajan is seen as a way to deflect criticism of the DRDO as being steeped in red tape, delays and long gestation periods. However, there is no doubt that it is the shadow of Washington and access to nuclear energy that finally tilted the scales against the Agni III.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:03 AM


Boeing bids to sell P8 aircraft to Navy
After playing hard to get with the Indian Air force, Boeing, the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer, has put up an offer to the Indian Navy.

In the first ever direct military sales offer, the aviation giant has bid to sell eight P8A anti-submarine aircrafts to India.

Boeing has also invited India to jointly manufacture the plane.

Multi-Mission Maritime aircraft or the P8 is a militarised version of the company's commercial jetliner 737. Designed as a maritime patrol and surveillance aircraft, the P8, Boeing says, will dramatically enhance the Indian navy's anti-submarine warfare capabilities.

Boeing says the P8 is crucial for the Indian Navy to effectively defend a coastline that extends more than 7,000 kilometers.

Says Rick Buck, P8 Programme Manager, "It means persistent surveillance and reconnaissance in those waters. You know who's there, you know why there are there, you know what they are doing and you can execute on those if they happen to be hostile targets. This is a significant presence. The reliability of the aircraft means that you can pursue those missions 24/7."

A contract to build more than 100 P8s for the US navy is already in the pipeline for Boeing. A growing strategic Indo-US partnership means that for the first time ever the company has the opportunity to directly sell its technology to a foreign country.

Says Buck, "The aircraft we're developing for the US navy definitely provides us with an advantage in time. We're already under development, we already have flight-test programs established. We'll be able to take advantage of those flight test programs and engineer development to meet the scheduling time frame the Indian navy requires."

Boeing submitted its official bid to build the P8s to the Indian government last month. There are however other contenders in the market including Russia and Boeing's main competitor in the US - Lockheed Martin.

The P8-A is expected to offset the Navy's existing fleet of Ilyushin-38 and Tupolev 142 aircraft.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:01 AM


Indian Army to acquire 'Nishant' by mid-2007
The first fleet of indigenously-built Unmanned Aerial Vehicle `Nishant', specifically designed for any-time launch and recovery, would be delivered to the Army by mid-2007, Aeronautical Development Establishment Director G Elangovan said today.

ADE conducted its 106th flight trial early this morning and the multi-mission UAV's successful launch and recovery here was watched by officials of the Coast Guard, he said.
"The uniqueness of Nishant is that it has no wheel at the bottom and is ready for launch and recovery from any point", he told reporters here.

Noting that it did not require a runway, he said the Indian Army had placed orders for the UAV with the Bangalore-based ADE and the first fleet would be delivered by middle of next year.
`Nishant' would be the state-of-the-art UAV to be acquired by the Army after `Lakshaya', which is now used as an aerial target system for shooting, Programme Director Natarajan said.
Besides, the UAV would also be used for civilian applications, he said.

With the commissioning of the ninth Indian Coast Guard station at Beypore near here - third in Kerala - full-time surveillance of coastal areas of the state would be complete, Coast Guard officials said.

Coast Guard Director General Prabhakaran Paleri would commission the station at Beypore on Thursday, they said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:00 AM


EADS guns for India deal
In a bid to tap the Indian market, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Consortium is in the race to provide hi-tech early warning systems for helicopters and armoured vehicles of the Indian Army besides offering ground-based radars and unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Early Warning (EW) systems are in increasing demand worldwide with even terrorists possessing shoulder-fired missiles to attack helicopters. We have requests from India for these equipment and we are in the bidding process to step into this business in India," Bernhard Gerwert, CEO and President of EADS Defence Electronics, told PTI on the sidelines of an international air-show, which concluded here on Sunday.

He said the EADS would tie up with Indian companies to produce these highly sophisticated equipments and also hold talks with Indian research institutes to develop and evolve the product pattern.

Gerwert, accompanied by company Vice President Alexander Reinhardt, said the Army has been asking EADS whether the system could be developed further for protecting armoured vehicles.

"The land forces have been asking for the same technology ... They want the same electronic equipment to protect tanks and armoured vehicles. We have developed this equipment for German land forces," he said, adding that negotiations were continuing with Indian companies on the issue.

Gerwert said that his firm was producing large variety of equipment for COMINT (Communication Intelligence), SIGINT (Signal Intelligence) and ELINT (Electronic Intelligence). "We are developing these in India through our South African subsidiary, Green Tech Aviation," he added without elaborating on the nature of such devices.

Speaking on network-centric simulation systems which coordinate and combine wartime efforts of different wings of the armed forces, he said "EADS will develop such equipment in India, which is a leading IT power and there are lot of experts there doing research and development on these issues".

"I cannot go into details ... I can only say that there is not only expertise, but a big market in India. Why should we hire Indian experts abroad. We will go right there and do work in India and that too, very soon," he said.

The EADS Defence Electronics produces a wide range of Electronic Self-Protection Systems, Missile Warning Systems, Radar Jammers, laser-guided Counter-Attack Measures and EW systems, which could be fitted on fighter jets like the futuristic Euro-fighter 'tornado', military choppers like Germany's tiger, the NH90 and A400m Military transport plane.

It was also developing "active protection" equipment called DIRCUM (Direct Infra-Red Counter Measure system) for aircraft, which are not just flares but active laser equipment which seek and destroy missiles.

Some other ultra hi-tech electronic devices include the missile launch detection system to protect helicopters and wide-bodied aircraft against missile attacks, which could be mounted on VVIP aircraft. Another device, Hellas-W (Helicopter Laser Radar Warning), was the only one in the world that could protect choppers from obstacles like high-voltage transmission lines by scanning the surroundings with laser beams.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 6:57 AM


IAEA Chief urges US Congress to approve India-US nuclear deal
WASHINGTON: The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, has urged the US Congress to endorse the legislation to allow India obtain American nuclear technology as well as power plant equipment.

In a rare and most direct appeal to US Congressmen and Senators on Wednesday, ElBaradei said the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the US lawmakers on behalf of an agreement initiated by President George W Bush would for the first time give India access to nuclear technology from the US and other nations.

"To me, this is a win-win agreement, and I hope it will go through Congress," said ElBaradei soon after meeting Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the State Department.

In her remarks, Rice said, "We've also talked about the US-India deal and Dr ElBaradei has been very supportive -- not because he is trying to intervene in US-Indian relations, but as we have talked about it because we need to broaden our concept of non-proliferation regime in order to deal with anomalies like the Indian situation. And then finally, of course, we've talked about Iran and how to bring into being compliance with the Board of Governors resolution that was passed and also the presidential statement that was passed in the Security Council that asks Iran to rapidly comply with the international community's demands."

The US-India nuclear accord, announced by President Bush during his visit to India earlier this year would lift a 30-year-old ban on keeping India out of the non-proliferation regime.

To become effective, the deal has to be endorsed by the US Congress where the legislation proposed by the Bush administration is pending with Democrats stalling the process by saying that the US Congress could act faster if India's talks with the IAEA were speeded up and Congress had an idea about the broad contours of the India-IAEA safeguards agreement. US arms control hawks also point to this alleged delay in talks with the IAEA as evidence of Indian perfidy.

However, the administration officials argued that the deal would benefit both countries as India is the world’s most populous democracy, an ally against terrorism and it could open up a huge commerce market for US companies.

Besides being approved by the US Congress, the deal has to be endorsed by consensus in the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Negotiations on this are being debated in London, Washington, New Delhi and Brazil.

The major benefits outlined by the Bush administration were that the nuke deal was a net gain for non-proliferation as India would open its civilian nuclear programme to IAEA inspection and it would also allow US firms to invest in India’s nuclear programme.

They had also said that American companies would gain from development of India’s nuclear power as it needed nuclear power reactors.

Regarding Iran, Secretary Rice acknowledged that a closed door meeting of the so-called P-Five Plus One grouping in London ended without an agreement and she discussed the results of the London meeting at a joint press appearance with Mohamed el Baradei.

"We did not expect that they were going to finalise all matters, and I think they are still working on some matters," said Rice.

However, neither Rice nor her key aides were specific about the problem issues in the talks.

IAEA chief was understood to support a direct US nuclear dialogue with Iran instead of the Bush administration's current approach of working through Britain, France and Germany.

However, in the appearance with Rice, ElBaradei said the format of talks was for the United States to decide, and that his role was as an honest broker in pursuit of a diplomatic solution to the Iran nuclear crisis.

Posted by Nikhil Khanna @ 4:43 PM


Pak approves purchase of Swedish aircrafts
Pakistan's government has approved the purchase of six Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft from Sweden, news reports said on Thursday.

The cabinet approved the purchase after defence officials told the ministers that Pakistan required a reliable surveillance system to safeguard its airspace, a government statement said.

Pakistan had signed a one-billion-dollar deal with Sweden in October to purchase the early-warning-system aircraft. President Pervez Musharraf had started negotiating for the aircraft during his July 2004 visit to Stockholm.

Also during Wednesday's cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz thanked China for its support and cooperation in building the JF-Thunder fighter aircraft.

The Pakistani Air Force is to induct the first batch of JF-17s in its fleet sometime next year, followed by the jet's serial production in the country the same year.

Conceived in 1992, the JF-17 project was jointly undertaken by Pakistan and China until the first prototype carried out its maiden flight in September 2003.

It is a lightweight multi-role jet that can fly at a speed of mach 1.6 with an operational ceiling of 16,765 metres.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:11 AM


IAF likely to purchase US transport aircraft
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has proposed to procure specialised American C-130 J transport aircraft, according to sources in the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

The IAF in its recent communication to the MoD has sought technical details of the C-130 J transport aircraft from the manufacturer for rapid deployment of armed forces in counter-insurgency operations.

The C-130 J aircraft made by the American aviation giant Lockheed-Martin, are used by special forces in western countries for specialised operations like storming hostage holding centres and hijacked planes.

The aircraft, according to the manufacturers, has a capability to land even on improvised makeshift landing grounds and even without lights.

According to company sources, the IAF and Border Security Force (BSF) could be in the market to purchase 12 to 13 of such aircraft. IAF presently uses its medium lift AN-32 aircraft as a carrier for special forces. The IAF which has 100 of these transport aircraft, is at present undertaking an emergency upgrade of these aircraft as well as heavier IL-76 aircraft to extend their life by 10-20 years.

Lockheed-Martin is also offering the C-130 Hercules aircraft as a replacement for IAF’s AN-32 fleet.

The flight deck of the ‘J’ series has been completely revised to provide the three-man crews with a state of the art “glass cockpit” environment.

The incorporation of multi-function, flat screen, displays has significantly reduced the number of dials that were in the earlier variants and are complemented by head-up displays, which present a host of flight management information directly into the pilot’s field of view as he scans the skies around him.

Additionally, the newer, advanced Rolls Royce Allison T56-A-15 Turboprop engines drive six-blade, carbon composite propellers. These engines are controlled by Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) units, which improve performance without compromising the high level of fuel efficiency. The propeller blades are fully reversible, allowing the ‘J’ model to manoeuvre better on the ground, the sources said.


Role: Primary Function Intratheater airlift

Power Plant: Four Allison T56-A-15 turboprops (4,300 HP, each)

Length: 97 ft

Height: 38 ft

Wingspan: 132 ft

Speed: 374 mph (Mach 0.57) at 20,000 ft (6,060 mts)

Maximum Takeoff Weight: 69,750 kgs

Normal Passenger capacity: Up to 92 troops or 64 paratroops or 74 litter patients

Range: 2,356 miles (2,049 nautical miles) with maximum payload; 2,500 miles (2,174 nautical miles) with 11,250 kgs cargo and 5,200 miles (4,522 nautical miles) with no cargo

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 4:38 PM


US sees greater Indian role in Malacca Straits
The US sees a greater role for the Indian Navy in the Malacca Straits region, one of the world's busiest sea-lanes, a top US admiral said Tuesday.

"Let me make it very clear - the US is not interested in patrolling the region. It is for the littoral states (of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia) to do so. India and Japan also have a more active role to play," Admiral Gary Roughead, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, said.

India and Japan are already conducting joint patrols in the region.

"Global prosperity depends on the free flow of commerce on the seas," Roughead said.

Some 50,000 vessels pass every year through the Malacca Straits, an 800-km long waterway that links Asia with the Middle East and Europe. It carries some 40 per cent of the world's trade, including 80 percent of South Korea's and Japan's oil and gas and 80 per cent of China's oil.

During his visit, Roughead met Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and the Indian Navy chief, Admiral Arun Prakash, to discuss greater interaction between the two navies.

"We will continue to advance our relationship. I believe we can do good things for our navies," he said, pointing out that the Indian Navy had been invited to depute observers for two major exercises - Valiant Shield and Rimpac - to be held in the Pacific later this year.

"We have also invited India to post a liaison officer at the Pacific Command headquarters (at Honolulu) and are awaiting a response on this," Roughead said.

The US admiral responded positively when asked whether the two navies had reached a stage of coordination.

"We enjoy a rather unique position in that we can come together at short notice (as happened in the wake of the December 26, 2004, killer tsunami)," he pointed out.

This was also reflected in the impromptu exercise conducted by the INS Viraat and USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carriers of the two navies off the Sri Lankan coast earlier this year.

"It wasn't planned. Ronald Reagan was transiting the area. Viraat was in the region. We got together for a quick exercise," the admiral said.

"As I often say - practice, practice, practice. Through exchange of methods, we will devise procedures that we both will benefit from," said Roughead, who spent two-and-a-half years of his childhood in Mumbai where his father, an executive with a US oil company, was posted.

"I was there from two-and-a-half to five. I was very young. All I remember is that the house we lived in seemed huge. I was very much taken in by the vastness and the beauty of the surroundings," he said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:57 AM


Indian, U.K. Navies Meet for Arabian Sea Exercise
Indian Navy aircraft will take off from the deck of the British Royal Navy’s aircraft carrier Illustrious during joint exercises under way off the coast of Goa, a senior Indian Navy official said.

The two navies began their Konkan exercises May 11 in the Arabian Sea. It is part of a regular series of joint exercises between the British and Indian fleets, begun in 2004.

The Indian Navy has fielded the guided-missile destroyer Mumbai, guided-missile frigates Ganga and Brahmaputra, fleet replenishment tanker Shakti and the recently modernized HDW-class submarine Shankush.

The Royal Navy task force comprises the Illustrious, guided-missile destroyer Gloucester, fleet replenishment tanker Fort Victoria, submarine support ship Diligence and nuclear-powered submarine (SSN) Sovereign.

The joint naval exercise ends May 29.

Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:56 AM


US, Indian navies should go beyond 'exercises': US admiral
The Indian and United States navies should go beyond "exercises" and look to expanding the relationship to enchance inter-operability for providing security, US Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Gary Roughead has said.
Praising the "professionalism" of the Indian Navy, the admiral, who arives in India next week, said both navies should not "simply be thinking in terms of this exercise or that exercise but as two very capable navies. How do we operate in the region? What are some of our shared objectives and interests that we have? How should our leadership interact and what should our agenda be?"

The admiral who emphasised inter-operability as the "most important priority" between the two navies, said his discussions with the Indian naval brass in New Delhi would include sharing of technology and policy. He may also talk about arms procurement by the Indian Navy.

"The first thing is how do we make sure we are able to share information from both a technical and also a policy point of view. It is from that sharing of information that opens up the opportunities to work in areas such as maritime security. Before you can do any type of operation you really have to have a common understanding," he told PTI.

Making the point that such sharing of information should not be limited to just the time of joint operations, he said it should be such "that our navies operate in a way, are equipped in a way that when we come to operate it is always automatic."

"I don't see the challenges. I see the opportunities. So the opportunity to come together, to be able to work together, to work with other nations in the region in a reinforcing way I think is so very important," Admiral Roughead said, adding, "I believe the interest that the Indian Navy has expressed in some of the procurements recently can only add to that."

He said he would look at ways to raise the level and complexities of activities between both forces.

The admiral who recalled his boyhood days in Mumbai said his visit was also a "good opportunity" to meet with the leadership of the Indian Navy. "I have had several occasions to meet with the leadership -- Admiral (Arun) Prakash visited Hawaii last year and it was my honour to be able to spend sometime with them. We talked on several issues and then in the intervening months I have been to several conferences where the navy leadership was represented."


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:54 AM


U.S.-India Nuclear Cooperation
David C. Mulford, U.S. ambassador to India, delivered an address on the state of U.S.-India relations and the importance of the proposed nuclear agreement between the two countries. Edited excerpts follow.

India’s transformation is accelerating, and a new U.S.-India relationship has emerged in the past three years. Our growing partnership touches almost every field of human endeavor.

We should not misjudge the vital importance of the normalization of India’s civil nuclear relation with us and with the world. The civil nuclear agreement as it stands agreed between the United States and India is the cornerstone. Going forward, do we really want India outside the world’s nuclear nonproliferation system, its gifted scientific community and political leadership confined to continued isolation? I think not.

The negotiations leading to the U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement were long and complex, but at all times civil and constructive. The final result represents a fine balance of our respective national interests and political realities. India has already put in place new antiproliferation legislation and is working with the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Nuclear Suppliers Group of countries. Legitimate concerns and questions on the agreement will be addressed by the administration.

In the end, we will need to make a fundamental judgment based on this agreement and the long-term interests of the United States. I believe this agreement will strongly serve U.S. national and global interests. It will strengthen the world’s nonproliferation regime, help address India’s real and growing energy needs, and recognize the new reality of India.

On May 11, AEI hosted another event on the U.S.-Indian strategic partnership. The panelists looked beyond the issue of whether Congress would or should approve the nuclear deal to how the outcome of any such agreement would affect the broader partnership. The keynote speech for the day was given by State Department counselor Philip Zelikow, a senior policy adviser to the secretary of state.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:14 AM


Crash rate of MiG-21s is down: IAF chief
The number of crashes involving MiG-21 jets has gone down in the past year, Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi said here today, refusing to accept that the jets were "flying coffins".

Compared to the average of 23 crashes of MiG-21s annually 10 years ago, the last fiscal year was the "safest" in IAF history, with only 11 of the Russian-designed jets going down, Tyagi told reporters.

"Why would the government allow pilots to fly them had not the MiG-21s been safe?" he asked. "It is not at all a flying coffin. Who has given this name? Perhaps a sub-editor in a newspaper working late at night has coined the word," he said when asked how long the IAF would continue to fly the MiG-21s.

On the delay in commissioning the Light Combat Aircraft, Tyagi said designing a combat jet was very complex and was being done by India after 30 years.

"As this is a new venture, it will take some time. In between sanctions were imposed on India which came as a setback to the progress of the LCA," he said.

Now both the IAF and the defence ministry would determine how fast the LCA project could be pushed to get quick results "because after all the air chief would want to fly an Indian-designed aircraft rather than a foreign production", he said.


Posted by Jehangir Unwalla @ 7:13 AM


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