March 30, 2017

India to supply lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar

India will supply indigenously developed lightweight torpedoes to Myanmar in a contract estimated to be worth USD37.9 million, according to Indian defence officials.
"The export of lightweight torpedoes will follow the earlier supply of sonars, acoustic domes and directing gear to Myanmar," Dr S Christopher, the head of India's Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), said in New Delhi on 24 March. He did not elaborate on his comments.
Industry sources told Jane's that Christopher was referring to the DRDO-designed advanced lightweight torpedo Shyena, which is reportedly based on the Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS)/Leonardo A244/S lightweight torpedo previously provided to the Indian Navy (IN).


India Said to Negotiate Multi-Million Dollar Russia Tank Upgrade

India has begun talks with Russia for a multi-million dollar deal to upgrade the army’s nearly 1,000 T-90 tanks, according to people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified because the talks are private.

Under the deal, Russian firms will transfer the tank technology to Indian partners in a bid to shake off the armed forces’ over-dependence on Russian supplies, they said.

It aims to ensure India’s fleet of battle tanks will fire more accurately, move faster and provide better comfort to the crew, they said. The upgrade program would be undertaken by both the Indian ordnance factories and private sector firms.

India has inked contracts for about 1,450 T-90s from Russia since 2001, of which 124 were bought directly from Russia and the rest are being license-built at an Indian ordnance factory. They are the Indian Army’s main battle tanks deployed along the borders with Pakistan in the Rajasthan desert, Punjab and on the Jammu and Kashmir plains.

"India’s focus should be on Russians building Indian technology partners for upgrading the T-90s, as the Indian Army operates the largest fleet of these tanks in the world," said K. J. Singh, a former Indian Army tank commander and independent analyst.

Russia is a major supplier of defense equipment to the India armed forces, with at least 60 percent of their arms inventory of Russian origin.

The talks for the T-90 upgrade program began earlier this year and gained pace at a two-day India-Russia industry conference hosted by the Indian Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on March 17 and 18, the people said. Over 100 Russian and 150 Indian industry representatives joined the conference, including officials from Uralvagonzavod OAO, the original equipment manufacturer of T-90 tanks.

The India Defence Ministry spokesman Nitin Wakankar said he had no comment on the talks. A spokesman for Rosoboronexport, Russia’s state arms exporter, couldn’t immediately comment on the report.

India and Russia also finalized agreements for the maintenance of the Air Force’s 270-jet Sukhoi combat fleet at the conference. The two deals, worth $315 million, were signed by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. with United Aircraft Corp. and United Engine Corp. for the long-term supply of spares and technical assistance for five years for the Sukhoi combat planes.

The projects will operate under the umbrella of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ program that seeks to boost domestic manufacturing. Major Russian companies, such as United Aircraft, United Engine, United Shipbuilding Corp., Russian Helicopters and Uralvagonzavod made detailed presentations on cooperation with Indian companies at the conference.

At the event, Minister of Defence Arun Jaitley described Russia as "a key, long-standing and time-tested partner" in the defense sector, and said the support extended by Russia to Indian defense platforms was "critical" for the war-preparedness of the armed forces.

"Historically, Russians have extracted their price, and have kept us dependent on them, by selling licensed-production in the name of transfer of technology," Singh said. "But in the long run, it is in India’s best interests to seek autonomy in supply of spares for the Russian platforms."


No-First-Use nuclear policy for China, but not for Pakistan?

It is not the first time that India’s No First Use policy has become a topic of controversy. Ironically, March 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference pledged a new wave of tense debate on the preemptive nuclear strike, decapitation strike and counter strike in South Asia. Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, managed to grab the attention of the conference attendees by inkling that:

“there is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first”

He added that:

“India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries (launch vehicles for Pakistan’s tactical battlefield nuclear warheads) in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction.”

Comprehensive counterforce here is used as an informal phrase that describes counterattack on a nuclear arsenal.

It is impossible to completely disarm a nuclear weapons state. If a nuclear weapon state is on the other side, one has to face not only massive retaliation but a nuclear counter attack, in response. Well, analytically, it could be assessed, as a consequence to the ambitions of completely disarming Pakistan that India intends to build more nuclear weapons, with enhanced and more sophisticated technologies, ballistic missile defense, a shift away from recessed and de-mated deterrent postures, multiple independently-targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs), and expansion of intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities.

It would be pertinent to mention here a well-known fact that India is the largest arms importer, and is engaged in several nuclear deals worldwide for which US is the biggest helper. An evidence estimated that for the US it would be desirable if a friendly Asian power beat Communist China to the punch by detonating a nuclear device first, for which the very likely country was no other than India. So, the US assisted by helping India acquire nuclear explosive, for balancing communist China that is evident from the recently declassified Sept 1961, top secret memorandum from State Dept official George McGhee to Secretary of State Dean Rusk.

Coming back to the point, there is another way of looking into Vipin’s above quoted comments; they is a direct indication of Indian inclination towards the doctrinal duplicity. Meaning, thereby, varying in case of Pakistan and China. On one hand, Indian nuclear strategists are on their verge of launching preemptive nuclear strike on Pakistan by flushing off its No-First-Use (NFU) policy and on the other hand they’re keeping the same doctrine for China. It is a clear double standard of its nuclear doctrinal policy of NFU. Ironically, the revolving continuing speculation on the transformation of NFU policy of Indian Nuclear doctrine is very much proved in the recent statement of Indian nuclear expert. The strategy might be to keep all options open by putting ambiguity in its nuclear doctrine. Diplomatically, Indian doctrine is only to show the international community that India has maintained a responsible use of its nuclear weapons by declaring a written doctrine, paradoxically which was never credible enough.

Operationally it is not possible to go for decapitation strike. Indian current nuclear developments such as submarine-launched ballistic missiles and an ambitious ballistic missile defense program, reflect its aggressive nuclear posture. But, no matter how much Indian political elite wants to signal aggressively, it is standing in the international community quite diplomatically at the same time. India actually aspires to alter regional and global order by its day-by-day hardline revelation. It was India’s ‘unrestrained behavior’, after which it became necessary for Pakistan to take a step forward towards a sea-based deterrent. India is extending the range of its missiles (Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles) right after the MTCR membership just within days – what will India do if its dream comes true of getting NSG membership? It would, for sure, lead the way for enhancing its uranium reserves for military usage or a thermonuclear weapons test.

Finally, the conventional wisdom of South Asia's strategic stability problem is challenged by the Indian expert’s delivered remarks. India may be demonstrating a ‘seismic shift’ in its nuclear strategy from 'no first use' to a preemptive nuclear counterforce allowing for escalation dominance or a ‘splendid first strike’ against Pakistan. Islamabad must be prepared for New Delhi opting to nuclear first-use and ever more so with hardliners like Manohar Parrikar, Ajit Davol, Shivshankar Menon and Sushma Sawraj at the helm. Last but not the least, India still does not have the means to carry out a “splendid” pre-emptive strike against Pakistan’s nuclear forces. It would be worth noting here that it requires Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) assets, which are not within India’s reach for decades.


Innocon wins Indian order for Micro Falcon UAV

Israeli company Innocon has been selected to supply its Micro Falcon unmanned air vehicle to an Indian law enforcement agency.

Innocon's chief executive Zvika Nave says the manufacturer has teamed with an Indian partner, complying with the terms of New Delhi's "Make in India" procurement policy.

Nave says the Micro Falcon has a flight endurance of more than 3h, and can be operated by one person. With a maximum take-off weight of 5kg (11b), the UAV carries a belly-mounted electro-optical/infrared payload. It is recovered by a parachute that returns the air vehicle to the ground on its back, to protect its sensor package.

Nave says the Micro Falcon is also equipped with a data link which enables a communication range of 16nm (30km). He adds that the UAV was also recently selected by an undisclosed European country, which will use the system for training purposes.


March 29, 2017

India Eyes Military Tech Transfer Deal With Israel For Anti-Tank Missiles, Drones

India is keen to sign multi-billion-dollar defence deals with Israel for anti-tank missiles, drones and other defence equipment, during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit expected to be in mid-2017.

The stalled purchase of hundreds of anti-tank guided missile Spike is expected to get a fresh lease of life from the Cabinet Committee on Security under a $1-billion purchase plan in the next few days.

Last month India went ahead with purchase of Spike missile despite the single bid situation. India’s defense procurement policy does not allow such purchase where only one company is eligible for tender.

But the Indian government is keen to sign the contract with Israeli firm Rafael Advanced Defense Systems as it has agreed to transfer technology for the missile under Make in India project whereas contract may be signed for building 1,500 systems and around 30,000 additional missiles in India.

In May 2016, India had finalized price negotiations for 275 launchers and 5,500 Spike missiles and kit form.

The Indian government is also considering a proposal to buy combat UAVs Heron TP made by Israel. India may approve the purchase if Israel agrees to transfer technology to India under the Make in India project.

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) had announced a new export-version of Heron TP on February 9, 2017.

Israel Aerospace Industries has changed the capacity of Heron TP for countries that are members of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). The export version of Heron TP can carry a payload of 450 kg. India became the 35th MTCR member last June.


India to begin negotiations for Airbus C295 transports

India's Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to begin contract negotiations for the purchase of 56 Airbus Defence and Space (DS) C295 medium transport aircraft (MTA) for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to replace the service's ageing fleet of Avro 748M transports.

Indian Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa was quoted by the Indo-Asian News Service on 24 March as saying that contract negotiations for the C 295s "are likely to commence shortly".

Industry officials estimate the MTA tender to be worth around INR119.29 (USD1.78 billion).

The MTA programme involves a joint venture (JV) between Airbus and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) that will import 16 C295s and build the remaining 40 locally.

In accordance with the 2013 MTA tender, 24 of these 40 aircraft are to be imported in kit form for local assembly and include a 30% indigenous content, the latter of which is set to double in the remaining 16 platforms.

User trials for the C295 were successfully completed in early 2016, and official sources told Jane's that they expect the Airbus-TASL deal to be inked during the 2017-18 financial year. Aircraft deliveries are expected to commence some 36 months later.

Industry sources told Jane's on condition of anonymity that the number of C295s purchased by India could increase to "well over 60" as the paramilitary Border Security Force and the Indian Coast Guard are also considering acquiring them.

The MoD's Defence Acquisition Council had approved the Airbus-TASL JV in May 2015, even though it had emerged as the sole contender after seven other original equipment manufacturers declined to respond to the MoD's bid.

The MoD also rejected demands by the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited to be appointed prime contractor for the C295 programme, as the IAF had expressed doubts over its efficiency and ability to complete projects within budget and on schedule.


March 28, 2017

Bharat Dynamics, L&T sign up for torpedo export


India is looking to export torpedoes developed by the Naval Science & Technology Laboratory (NSTL), Visakhapatnam.
To push this initiative, the Centre has facilitated a memorandum of understanding (MoU) between Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), a defence public sector unit, and L&T. The objective is to export Torpedoes (LWT-XP) designed and developed by NSTL.
According to a press release, the MoU was signed by V Udaya Bhaskar, Chairman and Managing Director, BDL, and Jayanth Patil, Head of Defence, L&T.
They recently exchanged documents of the agreement in the presence of Defence Minister Arun Jaitley and his deputy, Subhash Bhamre. Top executives of both companies and Defence Research and Development Organisation chief S Christopher were present.
Production plans

The Hyderabad-based BDL, which is the main producer of all indigenously developed missiles, will manufacture the torpedoes.
It has several production units in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
NSTL is a leading research lab under the DRDO, which is supporting the Navy. NSTL torpedoes are deployed in Indian Navy ships. 


India to Buy $1 Billion in Israeli Anti-Tank Missiles

The Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) has circumvented conventional policy to ink a deal with Israeli state-owned Rafael Defense Company for thousands of new missiles.
The Spike missile was developed in Israel for land-to-land missile strikes against enemy tanks. It is considered a "fire-and-forget" munition, however some versions of the Strike missile can be user guided via a "fire, observe, and update"model. 
The Ministry of Defense has officially "forwarded the deal to the Cabinet Committee of Security, which is likely to clear the same (deal)" in the week ending March 31, Defense News reported on Monday. "The deal could then be signed after next month," the MoD said.
Similar to previous deals, the Indian Army will secure 321 Spike launchers and 8,356 anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM) from Rafael for $1 billion total. Delivery could take up to 60 months, or five years, to send all the equipment, the MoD noted. In October, 2014, India spent $525 million on 8,000 Spike anti-tank missiles along with 300 launchers, Haaretz reported. 
The javelin FGM-148 has a range of 4.75 km, while the Spike can reach targets 4 km, 8 km or 25 km into the distance.
Generally, the MoD prefers to procure new equipment and weaponry by soliciting bids from multiple contractors. "The single-vendor situation has arisen as the other option, American Javelin, was found to be too expensive," said Rahul Bhonsle, defense analyst and Indian armed forces veteran.
One key element of the deal involves the transfer of intellectual property from Israel to India. Particularly, a clause in the contract allows India to gain access to the steps and procedures used to make the missiles in the event that the MoD exercises its option to create another 1,500 launcher systems and 30,000 missiles in the future.
"For long," an Indian Army official told Defense News, the Indian Army and Air Force have "been held hostage" to older generation ATGMs from Europe. 
"These ATGMs are fully wire-guided ATGMS…Even Spike is not a fully fire-and-forget missile, as there is wire guidance in Spike," the military official noted.


March 25, 2017

Trump administration asked to push for F-16 sale to India

Two top Senators have urged the Trump administration to push for the sale of F-16 fighter jets to India to build its capability to counter security threats and balance China's growing military power in the Pacific.

Senators Mark Warner from Virginia and John Cornyn from Texa in a joint letter to US Defence Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said, the Trump administration must make the fighter jet acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions with India.

India has launched an effort to expand its combat aircraft fleet and the competition has reportedly narrowed down to Lockheed's F-16 and Saab's Gripen.

Noting that the last F-16 for the US Air Force rolled off the production line in Fort Worth in 1999, the two Senators said India remains the only major F-16 prospect customer.

"A primary factor in India's decision will be compliance with Prime Minister Modi's 'Make in India' initiative, which will require establishing some level of local production capacity," Warner and Cornyn wrote.

"Given the strategic significance of India selecting a US aircraft as the mainstay for its future Air Force and the potential for a decision this year, we ask that the administration make the fighter acquisition a priority during initial bilateral discussions," they said.

Warner, who is a Democrat and Cornyn from the Republican Party are the co-chairs of the influential Senate India caucus, the only country specific caucus in the US Senate.

"We urge you to weigh in forcefully with the White House on the strategic significance of this deal, both to America's defence industrial base and to our growing security partnership with India," said the letter dated March 23.

Making a strong case for the sale of F-16s to India, the two Senators said this would represent a historic win for America that will deepen the US-India strategic defence relationship and cement cooperation between our two countries for decades to come.

"It would increase interoperability with a key partner and dominant power in South Asia, build India's capability to counter threat from the north, and balance China's growing military capability in the Pacific," they said.

India, they said, increasingly serves as an integral partner in the United States' security architecture in the volatile South Asia region, helping to protect our joint interests and deter common threats, and has emerged as a critical trading partner, they noted.

As such "it is in our national interest to work with India to progress democratic principles through regional security partnership and burden sharing," they said.

"To this end, we support the co-production of our legacy F-16 aircraft in India to help sustain the United States' current fleet of aircraft and aid a critical Indian security need with a proven American product," Cornyn and Warner wrote.

The competition for the fighter jets, they wrote, presents an opportunity to solidify and strengthen the significant gains made in the bilateral US-India defence relationship over the two previous administrations, they said.


Indian Air Force to acquire at least 60 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to begin contract negotiations for acquiring 56 Airbus C-295 transport aircraft as replacements for its ageing Avro HS-748 aircraft.

According to the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, due attention is being paid to all assets of IAF, fighters and transporters included, and that “contract negotiations for 56 C-295 aircraft to replace the ageing Avro fleet are likely to commence shortly”.

Separately, official sources indicated that the Border Security Force (BSF) is also looking at four C-295s for movement of its troopers within the country. That takes the projected number to 60, but as the aircraft will be made in India by the Tata Group, their number should go up eventually, keeping in mind the regional connectivity plans of the Civil Aviation Ministry, particularly in India’s northern Himalayan cities.

Airbus officials have also said they are looking at a sizeable share of the Indian civil aviation market, pointing out that the C-295 is already operational in 19 countries.

The air chief’s statement is significant as it clearly indicates that the process of acquiring the C-295s is now on a firm track.

The aircraft is to be made in India by the Tata Advanced Systems Ltd. (TASL) in partnership with Airbus, and as per their announcement in 2014, once a contract is awarded, Airbus Defence and Space will supply the first 16 aircraft in “fly-away” condition from its own final assembly line in Spain and the subsequent 40 aircraft will be manufactured and assembled by TASL. The arrangement will include undertaking structural assembly, final aircraft assembly, systems integration and testing, and management of the indigenous supply chain.

Asked how the IAF was overcoming many challenges in the transport domain, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that IAF will also induct another six Lockheed Martin C-130J Special Operations aircraft within the first half of 2017 while one more Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic lift aircraft is being acquired to take their number to 11. Ten C-17s are already operational with the IAF.

It may be recalled that IAF has already inducted the first lot of six C-130Js. One of them, however, had crashed and a case has now been made for its replacement.

About the AN-32 aircraft, which is the workhorse of the IAF and has been under upgrades, he said that their first lot is due for “phase out in 2023-24 and a suitable replacement will be considered at an appropriate time”.

The IAF had acquired more than 100 AN 32s beginning mid-1980s from the Soviet Union, and these are being upgraded by Ukraine, which is now an independent state after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

About the Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) that was proposed (in 2007) to be designed and built in collaboration with Russia, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said that “the agreement with Russia for MTA could not mature as their proposal did not meet some of the Air Staff Qualitative requirements (ASRs)”.


March 23, 2017

Lockheed Martin to shift F-16 production line to South Carolina

The end of an era is coming as production of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Fighting Falcon is being shifted from west Fort Worth to South Carolina.

Lockheed will begin moving the production line to its facility in Greenville, S.C., at the end of the year after delivering the last of the iconic jets being built for Iraq in September, said Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin Aeronautics in Fort Worth.

The F-16 has been a mainstay of Lockheed’s mile-long production line, but the Fort Worth plant needs the room as it ramps up production of the F-35 Lightning II, he said. Currently, 8,800 employees work on the F-35 and about 200 work on the F-16. It is expected that the F-16 employees will be allowed to transition to work on the F-35.

“As part of our effort to make room for the F-35 production here in Fort Worth, the F-16 production line must be relocated,” Ross said.

Over the life of the program, Lockheed has delivered more than 4,500 F-16s, including 3,600 built in Fort Worth. Since the company hasn’t booked any orders for new F-16s beyond the planes for Iraq, it would take about two years to start it back up in South Carolina once a new order is received, Ross said.

Moving production to South Carolina makes sense for several reasons, company officials said.

First and foremost, Lockheed Martin is ramping up activity on the F-35 in Fort Worth and expects to hire an additional 1,800 employees through 2020 as work on the stealth fighter hits full production. Last year, Lockheed built about 50 F-35s and expects to build up to 160 a year by 2019.

“The space we use for the F-16 will be consumed by the F-35,” Ross said.

Secondly, the Greenville plant is where the new T-50A trainer will be built if it wins a competition to build the aircraft for the Air Force. The T-50A is considered an “offshoot” of the F-16 design, so the economics of having the two lines together makes sense, Ross said.

Lockheed continues to pitch building the F-16 in India. India wants to modernize its aging military fleet of about 650 planes and the Indian Ministry of Defence has set up a competition to build a new single-engine fighter in that country as part of a “Make in India” initiative.

But the Trump administration has made it clear it will scrutinize any deal that may shift jobs overseas and has said it plans to take a “fresh look” at the India deal. Lockheed argues that the Indian contract, while moving production overseas, would still be a boost to the domestic economy.

Lockheed still thinks the F-16 is the right aircraft for India and is providing information to the federal government about that deal, Ross said.

Lockheed is also seeking to make additional F-16 sales to U.S. allies.

“We have a lot of pursuits ongoing but no new orders yet,” Ross said.


Russian design bureau ready to integrate BrahMos missiles into frigates for Indian Navy

The St. Petersburg-based Severnoye Design Bureau is ready to integrate the BrahMos strike missile system into the armament set of Project 11356M frigates for the Indian Navy after they are ordered by India, Severnoye Deputy CEO and Chief Designer for Special Hardware Vyacheslav Senchurov told TASS on Wednesday.

"No problems will emerge with the integration of the BrahMos strike missile complex into the frigate. We have already integrated this system earlier into the other three Project 11356 frigates acquired by the Indian Navy," Senchurov said at the LIMA-2017 international maritime and aerospace show in Malaysia.

The Severnoye Design Bureau is the developer of Project 11356 warships for the Russian and Indian Navies while Project 11356M frigates are the follow-up of this series.

The first three out of six Project 11356 frigates operational in the Indian Navy are armed with the Russian-made Club-N strike system (the export version of the Kalibr cruise missile complex) while the other three vessels are outfitted with the Russian-Indian BrahMos multipurpose missile system that is capable of hitting both surface and ground-based targets.

Director for International Cooperation and Regional Policy at Russia’s state hi-tech corporation Rostec Viktor Kladov said earlier that the planned contract for the delivery of Project 11356 frigates for the Indian Navy would be implemented under the "two plus two" formula:" two frigates were planned to be built in Russia and delivered to India and the other two would be constructed by the Indian ship-building industry at one of the national shipyards.