defMumbai: In the first big boost to the government’s “Make in India” initiative, aimed at making India a manufacturing hub, Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems (TASL) on Tuesday announced a joint bid for a government contract to supply military aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF). The IAF is looking to replace its fleet of Avro aircraft and the joint venture will supply Airbus’ C295 medium transport aircraft, a joint statement issued on Tuesday said.


While the Avro deal envisages the supply of 56 aircraft to the IAF — 40 are to be made by the JV — the government, since it came to power in May this year, has cleared over R1 lakh crore worth of projects to be made in India. Of this, projects worth R80,000 crore were cleared over the weekend.


Although at 49% India’s defence foreign direct investment levels are lower than the 51% that global defence majors prefer, the government’s strategy is to create enough orders for local manufacturers, thereby pulling in investments. India, with an annual defence budget of around $38 billion, is the largest importer of defence equipment in the world, including arms.


If the Airbus-TASL combine bags the order, it would be a big next step for the Tata Group company, which thus far has been a supplier of components for global aerospace firms like Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin. It would be the first time that the company would be building an entire aircraft from scratch at its manufacturing unit in India.


“It is a landmark for the development of aircraft manufacturing capability in India, now that Tata Advanced Systems is poised to take this step towards building entire aircraft in India,” TASL’s chairman S Ramadorai said in the statement.


“The C295 is a superbly reliable and tough aircraft with outstanding economics which is proven in the most difficult operating conditions all over the world,” said Domingo Ureña Raso, executive vice-president in charge of military aircraft at Airbus Defence and Space. “It has already been ordered by 19 countries, many of which have placed repeat orders. And just this year it has dominated the market with orders for no fewer than 20 aircraft from five countries.”


TASL has a joint venture with American helicopter manufacturer Sikorsky through which it manufactures components needed to make the airframes of the latter’s S-92 choppers. TASL is also the sole global supplier of finished cabins for the S-92, which will soon be the official chopper of the US President.


The company also has a joint venture with US-based Lockheed Martin to manufacture airframes for the C-130J Super Hercules military transport planes in India.

(Source: Financial Express October 29, 2014)





Israel and India are positioning the Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM) as an affordable area defense system that can be integrated on all surface vessels – including corvettes and medium missile boats.


The two countries have teamed to co-develop and market the area defense system which is considered more compact and affordable than comparable naval air defense systems of European and US origin.


Poland considered the acquisition of seven 1,900 ton Gawron class corvettes based on the Meko A-100. This project was cancelled in 2012 over financial constraints but in 2013 it was decided to restart part of the program and complete at least one Gawron hull by 2016. The current plan calls for the maintenance and capability expansion of the current naval force, tasked primarily with coastal defense. Among the platforms considered for this fleet are three 1,900 ton corvettes, which potentially could be candidates for the Indo-Israeli integrated naval air-defense system.


If Poland agrees to the proposal it would become the fourth customer of the system – as the Barak 8 system has already booked multi-billion dollars worth firm orders. Among the launch customers were the Indian and Israel navies, the Indian Air Force and Azeri ministry of defense, which included 75 of the missiles as part of an arms deal worth $1.6 billion signed with Israel in 2011.


Compared to other advanced air defense missile systems, Barak 8 / MRSAM would fit well in new and existing ships, as it comes in a 9” diameter canisters – compared to the 21” standard matching the VL-41 launcher.


The offer comes as the Barak-8 system is moving into the final qualification testing toward the end of 2014, to equip the leading naval vessels of the Israeli and Indian navies.


In Israel, Barak 8 will be deployed on three Eilat class corvettes, the first vessel – INS Lahav has already been equipped with the systems’ MF-STAR (ADIR) multi-functional phased array radar and Barak 8 weapon control system. In India, the lead ship of the Project-15A destroyer INS Kolkata, has been equipped with a wedged dome-shaped MF-STAR on its main mast, along with three 8 stack Barak 8 launchers below deck, each mounting eight missiles. The second and third vessels of this class, INS Kochi and INS Chennai, will also receive the new system.


While parts of the Barak 8 system are already installed on the lead ship of the Project 15A class, INS Kolkata, the 48 canisters installed on the destroyer will remain empty until fully tested missiles are delivered, hopefully by the end of 2015.


The systems will also become standard on the enhanced Kolkata class – Project 15B 7,200 ton vessels. Construction of the lead ship of this class, INS Bengaluru, will begin in 2016. By 2018 LRSAM systems will also be installed on India’s first indigenous aircraft carrier – INS Vikrant


These will be the primary requirement for a new class of offshore patrol vessel the Israel Ministry of Defense (IMOD) is requesting from naval shipbuilders. IMOD has recently published an international request for proposal (RFP) for the supply of four such vessels; they are likely to be equipped with air defense systems such as Barak 8, to provide a ‘protective umbrella’ against coastal defense missiles such as the Russian P-800 Yakhont that is likely to be fielded by Hezbollah in Lebanon, or Iranian C-704 thought to be supplied to Hamas in Gaza.


The weapon is optimised to defeat all types of aerial targets, from guided weapons, sea skimming and cruise missiles, including the high supersonic missiles such as the P-800 Yakhont to manned and unmanned aircraft.

(Source: Defense Update October 29, 2014)




New Delhi: India on Tuesday took a decisive step towards countering China’s assertive power, by committing to help Vietnam’s defence modernization, a move that will resonate unpleasantly in Beijing.


After his meeting with visiting Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Narendra Modi said, “Our defence cooperation with Vietnam is among our most important ones. India remains committed to the modernization of Vietnam’s defence and security forces. This will include expansion of our training programme…joint exercises and cooperation in defence equipment. We will quickly operationalize the $100 million line of credit that will enable Vietnam to acquire naval vessels from India.“ For the first time, India sent clear signals that it may be willing to sell the BrahMos short-range cruise missiles to Vietnam, a longstanding demand by Hanoi. The previous Indian government was a little hesi tant to sell BrahMos missiles to Vietnam, citing reservations by Russia (which is a co-developer). Russia has now indicated its willingness.India will wait to enter the MTCR (Missile Technology Control Regime) before making a sale, but both countries have decisively crossed this hurdle.


By making Vietnam the heart of India’s Asia-Pacific policy , the government has sent a clear signal to China that it would actively pursue its interests in the region. Interestingly, China’s state councillor Yang Jiechi was in Hanoi on Monday to look for maritime territorial disputes solution.


Indian and Vietnamese leaders agreed to work with Japan in a trilateral format to coordinate positions on security and economic policies. India already has a trilateral with US and Japan, but a VietnamIndia-Japan trio would have big implications for the balance of power in Asia. Significantly, India has agreed to share civil nuclear cooperation with Vietnam. The Indian atomic energy sector wanted to sell the DAE’s small 220 MW nuclear reactors to Vietnam.While the 2008 NSG waiver for India opens it up for nuclear commerce, there are several other steps before India can actually export nuclear reactors.But the process has started.


Modi reiterated India’s stand that territorial disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved according to law.By deepening energy cooperation with two new agreements between ONGC and Petro Vietnam, India is cementing its position in the contentious South China Sea by staking claim to oil and gas exploration there.

(Source: Times of India October 29, 2014)





NEW DELHI: After kicking-off submarine training for Vietnamese sailors last year, India is likely to coach Vietnam Air Force pilots in flying Sukhoi fighters as well, in keeping with the stepped-up defence cooperation between the two countries.


Both India and Vietnam are, of course, concerned about China’s assertive behaviour in the Asia-Pacific region, and are steadily building cooperation in military training and “capacity-building” as well as in joint oil exploration in the contentious South China Sea.


Even as Vietnamese PM Nguyen Tan Dung began his two-day visit here on Monday, defence ministry sources said the Sukhoi training agreement being “actively” discussed by the two sides was likely “to be finalized in the near future”.


The training would be on the pattern of the “underwater combat training” already underway for Vietnamese sailors at the Navy’s submarine school INS Satavahana in Visakhapatnam since October 2013, as was then reported by TOI.


“54 Vietnamese sailors per batch are undergoing the 12-month programme. Vietnam is inducting Russian Kilo-class submarines and Sukhoi fighters, both of which we operate, to strengthen its military capabilities,” said a source.


India is also transferring four naval offshore patrol vessels to the East Asian country under a $100 million credit line. India, in the past, has supplied spares for the Russian-origin Petya class warships and OSA-II class missile boats of the Vietnamese Navy, apart from continuing to train its military personnel in information technology and English language skills.


Indian warships also make regular port calls in Vietnam. Incidentally, after Indian warships were also “confronted” by the Chinese Navy in the South China Sea, New Delhi had send out a clear message that all must respect the “freedom of navigation in international waters” and the “right of passage” in accordance with accepted principles of international law.

(Source: Times of India October 29, 2014)





NEW DELHI: As disputed South China Sea witnesses increased Chinese influence, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Monday pitched for India’s “active support” to peacefully resolve all disputes and sought its greater linkages across the region.


Tan, who will hold talks on a range of issues with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday, also made it clear that Vietnam has and will continue to allow ships from India. The remarks came a month after an Indian naval ship INS Airavat was asked to exit Chinese waters as it was approaching a Vietnamese port.


“The proper settlement of disputes in the East Sea for peace, stability, maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation in the region is in the common interest of countries in the region and beyond.


“In that spirit, Vietnam hopes that India, as a major power in the region and the world, will actively support the parties concerned to peacefully resolve all disputes, refrain from actions that may further complicate the situation, thus contributing to the maintenance of peace, stability, maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea,” the Vietnamese prime minister told PTI in an interview.


Noting that Vietnam always attaches great importance to the friendship and cooperation with all countries including China, Tan said, “Accordingly, Vietnam supports India to increase multidimensional linkages with South East Asia. For the purpose of friendship and exchange, we have and will continue to allow ships from other countries including India to visit Vietnam.”


“Vietnam hopes that India, with its increasingly important role, will make positive and responsible contributions to the maintenance of peace and stability and the region and the world,” he said.


The remarks may not go down well with China, which has been objecting to Indian presence in the disputed South China Sea in oil exploration projects. Last month, China had asked Indian naval assault vessel, INS Airavat, which was on a routine call at a Vietnam port and was travelling in open international waters in the South China Sea, to leave the waters terming them as “Chinese waters”.


Making clear its position on the East Sea issue, Tan said Vietnam and other Asean countries have consistently underlined the importance of complying with international law, the 1982 UNCLOS and maintaining peace, stability, maritime security and safety and freedom of navigation in the East Sea.


Territorial disputes in the South China Sea involve both island and maritime claims among seven sovereign states within the region -Brunei, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.


Asked whether Vietnam would like to settle the dispute with China bilaterally or will it act based on international law, the Vietnamese Prime Minister said his country always holds in high regard the traditional friendship and comprehensive cooperation with China and indicated that it would like the dispute to be settled in compliance with international law.


“However, Vietnam is determined to protect its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagos as well as its sovereign rights and jurisdiction rights in these waters.


“With the tradition of amity and consistent foreign policy, Vietnam always perseveres with resolving all disputes through peaceful means, without resort to the use or threat of force, on the basis of exercising self-constraints and refraining from actions that may further complicate the situation, in compliance with international law, the 1982 UNCLOS, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) and efforts toward a code of conduct (COC),” he said.


He said Vietnam always takes a proactive approach in its conduct in keeping with international law and takes advantage of every opportunity to reduce tension, restore trust, promote friendly cooperation, pursue dialogue to seek a fundamental and long-term solution to the East Sea issue.


On India-Vietnam deciding to further military cooperation and if it could be considered to be aimed at China? Ton said, “The foreign policy of Vietnam is consistent. We do not join any military alliance against another country.”


Asked if Vietnam would be able to ensure the interests of foreign oil and gas companies currently active in the East Sea, he said, “Vietnam welcomes and is committed to creating every favourable condition for normal economic cooperation activities between Vietnamese oil and gas companies and their foreign partners, including Indian companies, in the Exclusive Economic Zone and continental shelf of Vietnam in keeping with the Vietnamese law and international law, particularly the 1982 UNCLOS.”


Ton’s visit is seen by Indian side as an opportunity to increase economic engagement even as the government was examining the Vietnamese offer of additional oil blocks for exploration in the South China Sea.

(Source: Times of India October 29, 2014)




NEW DELHI: Against the backdrop of over 300 transgressions by the Chinese army along the line of actual control till August this year, the government has given an in-principle approval for induction of nearly 12,000 personnel in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, a force which guards the 3,488km-long India-China border.


The 12 new battalions (12,000 personnel) will be recruited mainly for deployment at 54 new border outposts (BoPs) that will be set along LAC in Arunachal Pradesh, official sources said here.


The setting up of new posts, announced by home minister Rajnath Singh on Friday last, will bolster the presence of ITBP along the strategic frontier in Arunachal Pradesh which has witnessed incursion attempts from Chinese side because of large gaps between two border posts.


Terming the incursion as “transgression”, the government had informed Rajya Sabha in August this year that Chinese army has transgressed the border 334 times this year and a total of 1,278 times between 2010-13.


Chinese army transgressed the border 334 times till August 4, this year. The number of such incidents stood at 411 in 2013, 426 in 2012 and 213 in 2011, Minister of state for home Kiren Rijiju had said on the floor of the House.


The sources now said an in-principle approval has been granted by the Union home ministry after the ITBP had submitted a detailed plan that it would require to raise additional 12 battalions to man these new locations.


The present strength of the ITBP is 62 battalions and 58 of them are deployed along the India-China border and remaining four in Naxalite-hit areas.


“An in-principle approval has been made in this regard,” a senior home ministry official said and added that after a final approval, large scale recruitment will be carried out in a phased manner over a period of five years.


Apart from setting up of 54 new border outposts, the home minister had also announced a Rs 175 crore package for beefing up infrastructure along the border in Arunachal Pradesh.

(Source: Times of India October 29, 2014)




NEW DELHI: Arunachal Pradesh, much like eastern Ladakh, continues to be a major flashpoint between India and China, with Indian troops recently blocking attempts by the People’s Liberation Army soldiers to once again construct a road in the Asaphila region.


While the Asaphila incident did not lead to a prolonged military face-off, unlike the serious ones at Chumar and Demchok in eastern Ladakh last month, it’s an indication of the continuing shadow-boxing between the two countries all along the 4,057-km long Line of Actual Control.


Both armies undertake regular patrols to lay claim to “8-10 disputed areas” like Asaphila, a remote 100 sq km area along the LAC in Upper Subansiri division of Arunachal, as well as the so-called “Fish Tail-I and II” areas in Chaglagam sector, which take their name from the shape the LAC takes in the region.


Sources said the PLA’s “heightened activity” was been witnessed in Asaphila region for some months now. “The PLA troops, with vehicles and other equipment, then tried to build a road till Point 2445. They were then stopped from doing so by our soldiers,” said a source.


The last Indian military outpost in the region is at Taksing, which is on the eastern edge of Asaphila, while the PLA bases too are located 40-50-km away. “Soldiers from both sides undertake aggressive patrolling of 7-8 days’ duration. Some lead to face-offs, which are quite common in the region,” said the source.


Incidentally, as part of the military confidence-building measures being progressively implemented between the world’s largest and second-largest armies, a fourth BPM (border personnel meeting) point also became operational at Kibithu in Anjaw district of Arunachal last week.


“It was brigadier-level meet at Kibithu on October 23. The BPM mechanism provides for regular consultations and interactions between the two armies, which helps in defusing face-offs,” said the source. The first three BPM points are at Chushul (Ladakh), Nathu La (Sikkim) and Bum La (Tawang, Arunachal), while another one is being discussed at Lipulekh Pass (Uttarakhand)-Qiang.


Interestingly, as was first reported by TOI, the Indian Army and PLA are also slated to hold their fourth “Hand-in-Hand” (HiH) counter-terrorism exercise in Pune from November 16 to 27. The first three editions of the HiH exercises were held at Kunming (China) in 2007, Belgaum in 2008 and Miaoergang (China) in 2013. Though largely symbolic in nature, with just about 120 troops from each side taking part, the exercises are also considered an important CBM.

(Source: Economic Times October 29, 2014)




In a first, the heads of the world’s largest democracies, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Barack Obama got together to pen an op-ed declaring their commitment to a “robust, reliable and enduring” partnership amongst their respective nations. It’s a partnership whose time has come and is of particular significance in military and economic terms. The economic significance is apparent on considering numerous reports, ranging from McKinsey to Global Policy, predicting a shift of the world’s economic center of gravity to Asia in general, and India and China in particular, by around 2025.


The military significance is apparent given that the military center of gravity, in economic terms, has already shifted to India. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute report of 2014, India accounted for 14 percent of the world’s arms imports from 2009 through 2013, more than any nation. The trend would continue into the next few decades as the India continues its modernization drive amidst a troubled and violent environment at home and in its neighborhood. The security scenario is not expected to improve anytime in the near future, India’s arms industry is yet to mature, and India’s economy is expected to continue booming with growth rates in gross domestic product that exceed the global average. Put briefly, India’s rising security needs would continue to be supported by a growing economy and the vortex of economy for the defense market would continue to be India. The potential value of Modi and Obama extending the US-India defense cooperation agreement until 2025 thus is pretty impressive.


A buyer’s market beckons, and arms sellers from across the world are already in India in a big way. However, most deals are related to conventional arms like military aircraft and ships. The competition is intense, and big bucks are being made. However, one needs to look beyond the conventional. It is here that space technology fits in. Space capabilities, particularly those related to reconnaissance, communication, and navigation, that enable militaries to perform their tasks optimally are inherent to any military modernization. They enable long distance communication, cross-border observation, precise delivery of firepower, personnel, relief material, and so on.


Apart from the military, space also affects other security agencies like the federal and state police forces, intelligence, and narcotics control, all of whom abound in India and all of whom aspire to put space to multifarious uses. For instance, observation satellites enable precise identification of cocaine plantations even in deep forest cover, making interdiction work so much easier. To put their potential demand in perspective, India has a massive standing army of over 1.5 million, another 1.5 million in paramilitary forces, and an even larger number of state police, all of whom covet space capabilities. All security modernization gravitates to space, and the acquisition and integration of space capabilities is an inherently costly affair involving lots of money.


India’s handicap lies in its patently civil space program that has civil origins and, unlike most other major spacefaring nations, is focused only on civil uses. Thus, India’s space capabilities are severely limited in their security applications. The glaring military vacuum is evidenced in the fact that though India has constellations of communication and observation satellites, it has only one dedicated military satellite. Apparently, civil use of space by India’s millions leaves few resources for its security applications. A shift of focus from civilian development to military uses is neither prudent nor affordable and hence not likely. At least none is expected in the foreseeable future. On the other hand, the US is the acknowledged global leader in space capabilities, both of a civilian and military nature. In the civilian domain, a US-India Joint Working Group on civil space cooperation, formed in 2004, pursues the acquisition of civil capabilities; however, no such arrangement exists for defense products.


The vacuum thus lends itself to commercial opportunity. This is especially so in view of the extension of the defense cooperation pact until 2025. With no local industry, there exists little option for India apart from tapping into the foreign space industry. India’s space agency already has an excellent interface with private industry that provides a variety of products. The relation is likely to grow as both budgetary allocations and the needs rise. Funding has not fallen in the past decade and are is likely to decline in the next, as evidenced by an increased outlay in the twelfth five-year plan (2013–2018) of 400 billion rupees, or roughly US$6.5 billion.


Equally or perhaps even more significant is the fact that close to one-third of these allocations will flow into the industry. That is only expected to increase to surge as the space demands expand beyond civil to military applications. As it is, the 2013–14 figures of a combined defense and space budget are impressive at over $40 billion. As modernization gathers pace and aircraft, ships, and other items come in, the demand for space capabilities would rise proportionately. Integrating these capabilities into military systems is complex and needs support by industries with established competencies and experience. As of now, no Indian industry is known to have these, and hence the mantle falls on foreign providers. The harvest is ripe considering that in year 2014, the foreign investment limit has been raised from 26 to 49 percent. As it is, foreign imports constitute more than two-thirds of India’s total procurement and as the nascent Indian defense industry opens up, the opportunities rise aplenty.


India does seek to indigenize products and services. However, in a technology-intensive area like space, this is easier said than done. Space products are a result of long-term research and development and time in this case is no longer available: the modern military equipment is already arriving, but the supporting space systems are yet to come in. It is here that India’s new Defense Procurement Policy (DPP) of 2013 provides recourse. It encourages Indian companies to collaborate with foreign companies to obtain products not available locally. The Indian defense industry makes no space products. The DPP, in effect opens new vistas for the Indian defense industry to reorient business strategies and collaborate with foreign firms for space products. Joint ventures to tap into the burgeoning Indian market thus make enormous sense.


This sense is accentuated by the fact that as part of its drive to encourage foreign investment and manufacture of defense products, India has cleared 19 defense sector projects since September that were pending for last several years. Defense deals worth over $6 billion have also been cleared in the past three months. New vistas have opened up and the harvest is ripe. The opportunity is also not fleeting: it would last decades. The potential exists, the heads of nations concur, the defense pact presents an opportunity and there is but little reason for either party to not explore the sense and sensibility of the opportunity.

(Source: The Space Review October 29, 2014)


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