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INDIA, US DECIDE TO JOINTLY PRODUCE DEFENCE EQUIPMENT

defNew Delhi: With co-development and co-production of defence products in mind, India and the US on Friday agreed to take the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative forward.

 

The decision was taken at the delegation-level talks between defence minister Arun Jaitley and US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel, who is on a three-day visit to the country.

 

In the meeting, both sides took note of the progress made over the years in deepening defence ties. Both the sides reaffirmed their desire to further enhance bilateral defence cooperation, especially in technology and discussed ways for strengthening this partnership.

 

Stressing on indigenisation of the defence industries, Jaitley said, “The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective that guides our present policies. In this direction, we have taken steps to raise the FDI cap in the defence sector. We look forward to work closely with the US in this regard”.

 

The two sides also decided to take steps for the extension of the New Framework for the United States-India Defence relationship, well before it expires in July 2015.

 

Hagel invited Jaitley to visit the Pentagon in October during the latter’s visit to Washington to attend the annual meetings of the IMF and the World Bank, which has been accepted by Jaitley.

 

Apart from his meeting with Jaitley, Hagel also called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Earlier in the day, Hagel met national security advisor Ajit Doval.

 

During the discussions aimed at boosting defence and strategic ties, Modi expressed his desire to see further progress in defence relations, including in defence manufacturing in India, technology transfer, exercises and higher studies in the field of defence.

 

Modi told Hagel that he looked forward to his visit to the US “not just as an occasion to think in terms of what we can do for each other, but also as an opportunity to see how the world’s oldest democracy and the world’s largest democracy can build a partnership for peace, stability and prosperity in the world”, according to a PMO statement.

 

Hagel also met external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj in the morning before she left on a four-day visit to Myanmar.

 

Hagel’s visit to India, his maiden trip as defence secretary, comes less than a week after that of secretary of state John Kerry and commerce secretary Penny Pritzeker. The visit comes ahead of the summit meeting in Washington between Prime Minister Modi and US President Barack Obama on September 29-30.

(Source: Financial Express August 9, 2014)

 

 

US OFFERS TO CO-PRODUCE & CO-DEVELOP JAVELIN MISSILE WITH INDIA

 

The US will make India an offer to “co-produce and co-develop” the state-of-the-art Javelin infra-red-guided anti-tank missiles during the visit of Defence Secretary Hagel. Mr. Hagel arrived in New Delhi on Thursday and will be meeting PM Modi and defence minister Arun Jaitley on Friday.

 

The high probability of the US bringing up the Javelin deal springs from US President Barack Obama’s July 7 letter to Modi, in which he sought closer defence and strategic ties and directly made the missile offer to the PM. He also wrote that Hagel would be discussing the Javelin details with his Indian counterparts during his visit.

 

India is currently looking to buy some 3,600 anti-tank missiles with 900 launchers at a cost of $700 million (Rs 4,284 crore approximately) through the foreign military sales route. The army is in desperate need of an anti-tank missile as the indigenous Nag missile continues to be a work in progress.

 

Under the Javelin deal, India and US would jointly produce the third-generation FGM-148 missile through transfer of technology (ToT) and jointly develop a fourth-generation missile that can successfully hit a target 2.5km away. The weapon uses fire and forget technology where the launcher locks on to the target via thermal image and guides the missile through infra-red technology without being in the line of sight.

 

While India is keen on co-production, it wants full transfer of technology and the talks on Friday will be centred on this. “The Javelin makers are willing to do 97% ToT and want to withhold the algorithms related to core infra-red seeker technology,” said a senior defence ministry official.

 

Hagel is also expected to remind India that the window for purchase of Chinook and Apache helicopters at current rates will close by September. The US, which has kept aside six Boeing C-17 cargo aircraft for possible purchase by India, is extremely concerned about slow decision-making in the Indian defence ministry and Hagel will be looking to find a new equilibrium with Jaitley.

 

Apart from the Javelin deal, talks with Hagel will centre around a new defence framework agreement for 2015-20, a tri-lateral maritime exercise with Japan, and the regional environment, including the rise of China and the situation in Af-Pak and West Asia.

 

Maritime security is another top priority for both India and the US in the backdrop of Chinese attempts to acquire long legs in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean. With US capabilities declining in the Asia-Pacific and India unable to cope with Beijing on naval upgradation, both sides need each other to maintain the balance of forces in the region.

 

Hagel’s visit follows a similar stop in the country last week by secretary of state John Kerry and commerce secretary Penny Pritzker aimed at wooing a key ally in Asia.

(Source: Defence News August 9, 2014)

 

 

INDIA, US AGREE ON ARMS DEAL, BUT TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER REMAINS KEY

 

NEW DELHI: India and the US on Friday agreed to go in for co-development and co-production of advanced weapon systems, with Washington pushing New Delhi for early decisions on offers ranging from the next-generation Javelin anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs).

 

But India will not jump headlong into any venture without first ensuring the US sticks to its promise to provide “ground-breaking technology” on par with its closest allies, even though the Modi government is keen to strengthen the moribund domestic defence production sector.

 

The decision to revive the floundering Defence Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) between the two countries, as also work towards the extension of the 10-year India-US defence framework, was taken after visiting US defence secretary Chuck Hagel held delegation-level talks with his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley.

 

As the name DTTI suggests, the US is eager about “trade” as the world’s largest arms exporter. Having bagged Indian defence deals worth $10 billion in the last decade, with more like the ones for Apache and Chinook helicopters on the way, has only served to whet its appetite. But for India, the focus is on “technology” to ensure it can build a robust defence-industrial base to shed its embarrassing tag of being the world’s largest arms importer.

 

So, it was the importance of “technology transfer” that Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressed in his meeting with Hagel, holding that he was keen to see “further progress” in bilateral defence ties, including in “defence manufacturing in India”.

 

Jaitley, in turn, said, “The development of our own indigenous capabilities is a major objective that guides our present policies. In this direction, we have taken steps to raise the FDI cap (from 26% to 49%) in the defence sector. We look forward to work closely with the US in this regard,” said Jaitley.

 

But India is still not fully convinced about the US as a reliable long-term, high-end defence supplier, given its propensity to impose sanctions and stringent export control laws. The US, however, believes it can effectively marry trade and technology, with benefits for both.

 

Stressing that “security, stability, freedom of sea lanes, economic development and energy” is in the interest of the two countries as well as the Asia-Pacific region, Hagel said the US wants to be a partner in India’s military modernization and recognises its needs to strengthen its defence-industrial base.

 

The US will be led by its under secretary of defence acquisition, technology and logistics Frank Kendall in the DTTI. The Indian points-man, in turn, will be the defence production secretary, which is a comedown from before since former national security advisor Shivshankar Menon earlier led the initiative. Jaitley, incidentally, accepted Hagel’s invite to visit Pentagon when he goes to Washington to attend the annual meetings of IMF and World Bank.

 

Of all the joint development and production offers, the US is especially keen to push the case for fourth-generation Javelin ATGMs, which even President Barack Obama has personally pushed with Modi. The Indian ATGM project, after all, is going to be worth over $2.5 billion. Javelin is in contention with the Israeli “Spike” tank-killing missiles to bag the project, as was earlier reported by TOI.

 

With the 1.13-million Indian Army grappling with a huge shortfall of 44,000 ATGMs of different types, the project involves an initial direct acquisition of the man-portable “tank killers”, with a strike range of 2.5km, followed by technology transfer to defence PSU Bharat Dynamics for large-scale indigenous manufacture. The Army is keen to equip all its 382 infantry battalions with third and fourth-generation ATGMs.

(Source: Times of India August 9, 2014)

 

INDIA’S KASHMIR EXPERIENCE CAN BE A MODEL FOR ISRAEL IN GAZA

 

GAZA: Amid the deadly Israeli-Hamas conflict, a Kashmiri woman who is married to a Palestinian here feels Israel can learn from India’s experience in Kashmir while dealing with the volatile situation in Gaza.

 

“It used to be quite terrible in Kashmir but things started to take a positive turn when the Indian government started to invest in education and found ways to send youngsters to learn outside the state,” says Lubna, a bio-chemist who works for the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) in Gaza in its Department of National Defence.

 

“Their energies got channelised into constructive things. It helped ease the situation and also get control over the spiralling violence. Things would have been very different if India would have resorted to violent means to take control of the disturbed territory,” she said.

 

Lubna says that Israel could learn quite a lot from the Indian handling of the situation in Kashmir and make good use of it in Gaza.

 

“There is almost no work but the PNA has retained all its staff even after its ouster from Gaza,” she said.

 

“I went to Aligarh Muslim University and my brother went to Manipal (University). We learnt and moved on in life. There are so many other youngsters my age who benefited from the Indian government’s thinking and came out of the cycle of violence,” Lubna noted.

 

“Israel tried to suffocate us by imposing closure with the support of the West. Left with no choice the militant factions started building tunnels which kept life going here in Gaza. Even the shoes I wear came through tunnels,” she said.

 

“If youngsters were allowed to go out and learn. If they could find other opportunities, they would probably not have chosen what they have. Who doesn’t want to live a good life at peace. People in Gaza were choked to make the choices that they have made,” Lubna asserted.

 

“It’s my first visit to Gaza. My daughter has been living here for 17 years after marrying a Palestinian who studied with her in India. I had not seen my three grandchildren for the last six years. I was obviously thrilled at the prospect of spending our first Eid together in Gaza”, said Lubna’s 67-year-old mother Fatima, who is visiting her here.

 

Fatima is planning to go back to India on September 11 but still doesn’t know if and how she would be able to do so.

 

“We hear that Egypt would be opening the Rafah crossing as part of the ceasefire deal. When my mother came the Representative Office of India in Ramallah was extremely helpful in coordinating her entry. I hope she has a safe exit,” Lubna said.

(Source: Times of India August 9, 2014)

 

PAKISTAN HANDS OVER CAPTURED BSF JAWAN SATYASHEEL YADAV

 

Pakistan on Friday handed over to India a BSF jawan who was captured by Pakitan Rangers after he was swept away into their territory by strong currents of Chenab river.

 

The 30-year-old trooper Satyasheel Yadav was handed over to Border Security Force (BSF) officials by the commanders of the Pakistan Rangers at the zero line at Octroi border post along the International Border (IB) in R S Pura sector of Jammu districtin the Jammu sector.

 

He is in good health, a senior BSF officer said, adding that he has been taken for debriefing.

 

“Yadav was handed over to us at 4.18 PM near border pillar 918 along the International Border in Jammu and Kashmir. The trooper is well and he is being taken to our nearby border post where the BSF DG and other force commanders would meet him,” he said.

 

Yadav, who was dressed in his dark green combat fatigue, walked into the Indian soil flanked by his seniors.

 

BSF chief D K Pathak has flown in from Delhi especially for the handover event.

 

Earlier, Yadav told reporters in Pakistan that his boat accientally strayed into the neighbouring land after it went out of control in strong river currents.

 

“My colleagues swam out but I do not know swimming. The boat took me into Pakistani territory. I jumped into water near a Pakistan post and was rescued by jawans of Pakistan Rangers,” he said in his narration of the events leading to his capture.

 

Yadav, flanked by Rangers’ officials, said he was made “comfortable” by them.

 

“They took my introduction. They helped me to the extent they could. They kept me better than what I had thought. I have no complaints. I am happy,” he said.

 

Yadav was out on a patrol on Wednesday with three other personnel in the Paragwal-Khour sub-sector of general area Akhnoor when the boat they were travelling in developed a problem.

 

BSF officials had said that when the patrol squad was negotiating a narrow bend in the river in this sector, the engine of the motorboat failed.

 

A rescue boat later sent to fetch the BSF men was taken by three personnel but Yadav got drifted in the strong current as the rope holding him snapped and he subsequently landed 400 metres away in the Sialkot sector of Pakistan where he was picked up by the villagers initially and then handed over to the Rangers, they said.

 

Yadav is a resident of village Ranipura in Firozabad district of Uttar Pradesh and has three children. He joined the country’s largest border guarding force in 2005.

(Source: Hindu August 9, 2014)

 

BAE SYSTEMS LOOKS TO REVIVE CONTRACT FOR SUPPLY OF 145 GUNS TO INDIA

 

NEW DELHI: BAE Systems, which makes M-777 ultra-light howitzer (ULH) guns, is looking to revive a contract for the supply of 145 guns to India by pledging to comply with offset requirements in a letter to the ministry of defence.

 

The company is also open to reviving its partnership with Mahindra & Mahindra and is discussing possible joint ventures with two public sector companies, following the announcement that India will allow up to 49% overseas investment in the sector.

 

“We have conveyed to the defence ministry that our company is fully compliant with the offset rules and have written a letter confirming that we would comply with the direct offset rules,” Ian King, chief executive officer of BAE Systems, told ET. Offsets pertain to local investment commitments by overseas companies as part of purchase contracts.

 

The letter was required after defence minister Arun Jaitley informed Parliament that the contract was stuck. “The deal has not progressed due to cost issues and because the vendor has not been able to come up with a proposal fully compliant to the offset requirement,” Jaitley said. The Indian government ordered 145 M-777s in 2013 at a cost of aboutRs 3,500 crore but that could increase to as much as Rs 5,000 crore due to various reasons, including reopening of the assembly line. However, King clarified that the cost as cited by the US government last year was the upper end of the price band. “It is a ceiling price, which is subject to negotiations, and the price of the guns will be lesser than this,” he said.

 

The order was a government-togovernment contract between the US and India. BAE was the only shortlisted bidder left after Singapore Kinetics was blacklisted for 10 years by the government over bribery allegations that the company has denied. The US government had issued a Letter of Acceptance, which lapsed on October 15, 2013, and BAE is hopeful that this will be discussed during US defence secretary Chuck Hagel’s three-day visit to India starting Thursday.

 

The acquisition of the ultralight howitzer artillery guns is crucial for the Indian Army since these are to be positioned in mountainous areas bordering China in the northern sector and in the Northeast.

 

These guns are expected to dramatically boost the firepower of the army since they can be moved easily and are ideal for mountain warfare. King welcomed the move by the government to raise the foreign direct investment (FDI) limit in defence and said that it gives the company enough opportunity to get into more than one programmespecific joint venture. “I am happy with 49% and we will be looking at joint ventures with all industrial companies.

 

We are in advanced stage of discussions with two public sector companies for joint ventures on communications and guns,” said King, adding it was also open to reviving partnership with M&M.

(Source: Economic Times August 9, 2014)

 

INDIAN STEALTH FRIGATE VISITS VIETNAM FOR JOINT RESCUE EXERCISES

 

India’s INS Shivalik frigate arrived in Haiphong in northern Vietnam for a three-day visit on Tuesday.

 

Chinese scholars have said that Vietnam is attempting to ally with other countries over the South China Sea dispute, a goal which suits India, which is aiming to increase its military presence in the region, according to the website of China’s nationalistic tabloid Global Times.

 

The visit of the frigate, which has a 6,200-tonne displacement, was praised by Indian media as a “brave move,” as it passed through “disputed waters” claimed by China to reach the port. It will carry out a joint rescue operation exercise with Vietnamese ships, according to the paper. India is also reportedly training the Vietnamese navy to carry out missions in submarines and underwater operations and plans to sell Vietnam four patrol boats worth a total of US$100 million.

 

Wu Shicun, head of the National Institute for South China Sea Studies, condemned the visit, stating that the actions of both countries would do nothing to contribute to peace in the region on the eve of ASEAN’s official meeting.

 

It is the second time the Indian navy’s fleet has visited Haiphong since May 2012. The city is the third largest city in Vietnam and has the largest port in the northern part of the country. India has invested in many of the region’s oil and gas resources, reported the India Express.

 

Tensions have risen between China and Vietnam over recent months after China deployed an oil rig to waters Vietnam claims as part of its excusive economic zone in May, leading to a stand-off between Chinese and Vietnamese ships and widespread anti-China protests and rioting in Vietnam.

 

Although Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s new government is strengthening economic ties with China, it has also made it clear that it will not compromise over territorial issues, and tensions have resurfaced between the two recently over a border dispute in Arunachal Pradesh.

 

In related news, India’s indigenous destroyer the Kolkata-class D63 entered service recently. The Indian navy has published images of the ship during a sea trial.

(Source: Want China Times August 9, 2014)

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