NEW DELHI — The Indian Defence Ministry — faced with a shortage of ammunition for its Russian-made T-90 tanks, coupled with an inability to produce ammunition at home — has no choice but to give in to Russian terms and purchase marked-up ammo from Moscow, an MoD source said.
The MoD reluctantly agreed to the deal last month, despite the fact that Russia hiked the price by 20 percent and refused to accept offset obligations.
Russia will receive a $197 million contract for the fin-stabilized armor-piercing discarding sabot. In 2011, the asking price for the same order was $163 million.
Besides jacking up the price, the Russians also refused to transfer technology for making the rounds to the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), a demand India has been making for the past five years, the MoD source added. A diplomat from the Russian Embassy merely said the sale of T-90 ammunition was on agreed-upon terms, and refused to give details.
India was forced to agree to the terms because OFB’s efforts at making the ammunition failed, an Indian Army official said.
“India bought T-90 tanks from Russia without transfer of technology for ammunition, which has resulted in perpetual shortages for the ammunition,” the official said.
“There were reportedly multiple problems in procurement of T-90 tank ammunition,” said Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier general and defense analyst. “The ammunition produced in India was not compatible with the fire-control system of the tanks, thus these have to be modified. The Defence Research and Development Organisation [DRDO] has not been able to resolve the problem, hence there is a challenge. Meanwhile, there was apparently no fallback plan, thus orders had to be made to the single supplier, which hiked the prices thus compounding the problems.”
A DRDO official said technology for the ammunition actually has been developed and transferred to OFB.
The Indian Army official, however, said the ammunition developed by DRDO is only for the T-72 tanks. The ammunition failed when it was used in the T-90 tanks.
“The OFB has failed to produce ammunition for T-90 tanks because it is far more sophisticated than ammunition for Russian made T-72 tanks,” Bhonsle said. “Because in the case of T-90 ammunition, there are intricate linkages with the fire-control computer.”
“The way out of the ammunition crisis is the need to tie up with overseas original equipment manufactures [OEMs],” said defense analyst Nitin Mehta. The rise in demand for T-90 ammunition as the fleet strength increases will be an attraction for OEMs to come forward to partner with Indian companies in producing the required ammunition, Mehta said.
The Indian Army operates more than 500 T-90 tanks, and plans to increase the strength to more than 1,300 by 2020 through license-production at Indian facilities.
An executive at a domestic private company said OFB has a monopoly on ammunition.
“The private companies [focus on] propellant and explosives, and not in the filling of the shell or rocket motor,” the executive said.
(Source: Defense News October 22, 2014)
GOVT. EASES NORMS FOR PRIVATE DEFENCE FIRMS
In a move expected to rake in investments into the defence sector, the government on Monday allowed private defence manufacturing firms to sell equipment to state-run entities without prior approval.
However, permission would be required to sell to non-government entities, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said.
“The Licensee shall be allowed to sell defence items to government entities under the control of Ministry of Home Affairs, State governments, Public Sector Undertakings and other valid Defence Licensed Companies without approval of the Department of Defence Production [DoDP],” the Ministry said in a communiqué on Monday.
“However, for sale of the items to any other entity, the Licensee shall take permission from the DoPD,” it said.
The Ministry also removed the cap on the annual production capacity for defence-related equipment. However, licensed firms would be required to submit their production returns to the government every six months.
(Source: Hindu October 22, 2014)
INDIA PLAYS SAFE, GROUNDS ENTIRE SUKHOI-30 FLEET
India has grounded its entire Sukhoi-30 fleet after a recent crash because it doesn’t want to put its pilots in harm’s way.
The fighters have not flown for a week after a Su-30 MKI of the Indian Air Force crashed near Pune, raising questions about the safety record of the fighter.
With the IAF operating close to 200 twin-engine Su-30s, the grounded planes represent almost a third of the country’s fighter fleet. India is due to get 72 more of these planes, each worth over Rs. 200 crore.
The IAF is down to 34 combat squadrons, as against an authorised strength of 44. Each squadron has up to 18 fighter planes.
An IAF official said safety checks with “special focus on ejection seats” were being conducted and flight operations would resume only after each plane was cleared. A highly-placed source said the pilots of the plane that crashed on October 14 near Pune had reported “automatic seat ejection.” One of the two pilots was involved in a previous Su-30 crash too.
Five Su-30 fighters have crashed during the last five years, setting off alarm bells in the IAF. The Su-30 fleet has been grounded at least twice in the past.
Former IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Major told HT, “A fleet is grounded when you have no clue as to what brought the plane down. It’s serious.”
Asked if buying Su-30s was a doubtful choice, Major said the planes were splendid but IAF needed to get to the bottom of the problem. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited assembles and repairs these planes in India.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had told reporters on October 4 that the Su-30 fleet was facing certain problems, but he refused to elaborate. The IAF’s Su-30 fleet has faced a high number of mid-air engine failures during the last two years, said another official.
(Source: Hindustan Times October 22, 2014)
PAK-FA FIGHTER RECEIVES FIRST SETS OF NEW ELECTRONIC WARFARE SYSTEM
The Radio Electronic Technologies concern provided the Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation (PAC FA) T-50 with the first batch of Himalayas electronic warfare systems.
“We are currently testing it,” General Director Nikolay Kolesov told TASS.“T-50 prototypes are already equipped with the Himalayas onboard defense system. The system is used in plane tests,” Kolesov said.
The unique air system increases fighter jet’s jamming resistance and damage tolerance, as well as neutralizes enemy’s signature control systems. It also helps decrease aggregate weight of the PAC FA.
The Himalayas are integrated into the jet fighter system to the extent it functions as a so-called smart cover. “In other words, we are not producing some separate blocks, but parts of a plane with add-in electronic devices,” Kolesov stressed when talking about fifth-generation jet fighters’ electronic warfare characteristics.
The Himalayas EW system was developed by the Kaluga Scientific Research and Radio Technology Institute and is manufactured at the Signal radioplant in Stavropol. They are both part of the Radio Electronic Technologies concern.
The concern is Russia’s largest electronic industry holding company. It was established back in 2009 and is now part of the Rostec State Corporation. It specializes in development and production of systems and commercial avionics, position-radar station of air basing, identification and electronic warfare systems, measuring apparatus for various purposes. The concern includes 97 scientific research institutes, a development laboratory and production facilities.
(Source: Itar-Tass October 22, 2014)
INDIA WARNS PAKISTAN OF MORE PAIN IN KASHMIR FIGHTING
India warned Pakistan on Tuesday of more “pain” if it continued to violate a ceasefire on their disputed border in Kashmir and said it was up to Islamabad to create the conditions for a resumption of peace talks.
The two sides exchanged mortars and intense gunfire this month, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens in the worst violation to date of a 2003 ceasefire. While the firing has abated, tension remains high along a 200-km stretch of the border dividing the nuclear-armed rivals.
“Our conventional strength is far more than theirs. So if they persist with this, they’ll feel the pain of this adventurism,” said Defence Minister Arun Jaitley.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government came to power in May promising a tough response to violence in the Himalayan territory. It accuses Pakistan of helping Islamist militants cross into its side to keep alive a 25-year armed revolt in India’s only Muslim-majority state.
Military officers on both sides say Indian border commanders adopted a more aggressive stance in the clashes this month, firing 1,000 mortars on one day this month.
It was not clear what triggered the fighting.
Pakistani army officials said the trouble began with India’s decision to beef up border defences, in violation of the ceasefire pact.
Indian army commanders, for their part, were incensed by the killing of a soldier on their side of the Line of Control in Kashmir in a remote-controlled explosion that they blamed on militants backed by Pakistani army regulars.
“When Pakistan used to fire, we always had a shield in our hand. This time we also had a sword,” said Jaitley, a close associate of Modi who is also finance minister.
Modi invited his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif, to his inauguration as part of a push to rebuild trust with neighbours. But while relations with the smaller neighbours are improving, Pakistan has remained a stumbling block.
In August, the Modi government abruptly called off talks between the two countries’ top diplomats, objecting to Pakistan’s ambassador to New Delhi holding talks with Kashmiri separatists ahead of the meeting.
Jaitley said it was up to Pakistan to create the conditions for dialogue.
“Of course we can talk to Pakistan, but it is up to Pakistan to create an atmosphere for talks. Pakistan has to stop triggers which upset the environment in which talks are held,” he said.
(Source: Reuters October 22, 2014)
NAVAL HELICOPTER HELPS RESTORE POWER IN VIZAG
VISAKHAPATNAM: It was the Indian Navy to the rescue of electricity authorities on Tuesday as they faced an uphill task of restoring a 132 KV transmission tower belonging to AP Transco atop the Simhachalam hill. Finally, a Naval helicopter from INS Dega air lifted the reconstruction material and other spares required to restore the transmission tower, said AP energy secretary Ajay Jain.
So far, the electricity authorities have been relying mainly on trucks and other vehicles to restore power supply to most parts in the city, but the naval helicopter had to be pressed into service to restore the high tension tower that collapsed atop Simhachalam hill on October 12.
“The tower at Simhachalam hill had to be re-constructed immediately to enable uninterrupted power supply to the remaining part of the city and was also extremely critical for providing electricity to industries located around Vizag. The remote location of the tower on the hill made this task extremely difficult, time consuming and laborious for AP Transco. The city administration finally sought the assistance of the Navy in ferrying the reconstruction material weighing about 10 tonnes to the remote location on Simhachalam hill,” said an official spokesperson from the Eastern Naval Command.
(Source: Times of India October 22, 2014)