April 21, 2018

Dassault Reports Rafale Progress in India

The training of Indian pilots and maintenance personnel in preparation for delivery of Rafale fighters is in progress in France, Dassault Aviation chairman and CEO Eric Trappier told AIN in describing progress with the Indian air force contract for 36 Rafale fighters. He also commented on the latest Indian request for information (RFI) for more new fighters while visiting India as head of a delegation from the French Aerospace Industries Association (French acronym: GIFAS). However, Trappier made only passing reference to the financial and legal troubles that have recently beset the Reliance Group, Dassault’s partner in India for the Rafale contract.

In addition to the training in France, India is preparing a hangar at the Reliance Defence facility at Nagpur, where parts for the Rafale are being made, with deliveries to start this year. Dassault Aviation has started looking for more offset partners. Major subcontractors to the French manufacturer that have already tied up with Indian companies include engine maker Safran and Dassault Systèmes, providing 3D modeling and product lifecycle management (PLM) software. Thales announced last year it would develop Indian capabilities to integrate and maintain the radar and electronic warfare sensors at the Nagpur facility along with an Indian supply chain for manufacturing microwave technologies and high performance airborne electronics.

Currently, the Reliance Group's flagship company, Reliance Communications, is embroiled in court cases brought by minority shareholders, and stemming from its inability to repay lenders. The group has debts of $18 billion. A senior official at the Indian MoD has questioned the status of Reliance Defence, since the MoD’s Defense Procurement Policy is very strict on the credit rating of vendors. However, a Reliance official at the Nagpur facility told AIN: “The legal case has nothing to do with Reliance Defence, which is a part of [a separate] subsidiary, Reliance Infrastructure.”

Trappier said that Dassault is busy responding to the recently released RFI for 110 more fighters. The request cites 75 percent of these as single-seaters and the remainder as two-seaters. A maximum of 15 percent of the aircraft would be delivered in a flyaway state, with the remainder to be made in India by a Strategic Partner/Indian Production Agency. The current RFI dropped an earlier stipulation that the new fighters be single-engine.
 But the Dassault chief declined to confirm that Reliance would be the partner in bidding for the 110 fighters. “There is a process of the RFI, and we will see at the time of the Request for Proposal…there is nothing as of now,” he said. “We need a variety of other suppliers [and] we are ready to transfer technology, because my government supports this and our own commitment to India,” he added.

Trappier also noted that the Indian Navy requirement for 57 carrier-capable fighters would be best met by the Rafale naval variant. However, the seaborne Rafale currently used by the French is built for CATOBAR operations (catapult assisted takeoff but arrested recovery). The Indian Navy's current aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya and the forthcoming Indigenous Aircraft Carrier-1 are designed for STOBAR operations (short takeoff but arrested recovery)


Shortage of funds delaying strategic roads along China border

While infrastructure development along the China border was the most important issue discussed in the bi-annual Army Commanders’ Conference, the issue of shortage of funds leading to delay in strategic road projects was also deliberated upon at the mega military event.

The matter pertained to the dearth of funds in the hands of the Border Roads Organisation (BRO), which in turn, is leading to delays in completing strategic roads along the frontier with China, officials said today.

As a response to the money crunch, funds meant for General Staff (GS) roads are being diverted for the higher priority India-China Border Roads (ICBRs). This is likely to affect the 200-odd GS roads that ensure inter-valley and inter-sector movement of troops and equipment along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

On the other hand, the ICBRs are meant for much larger mobilisation efforts.

The inadequate budget for the strategic roads and infrastructure development along the northern borders has also been highlighted by the Indian Army’s Vice Chief Lt Gen Sarath Chand, who informed the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence that the allocation for these tasks is falling short by about Rs 902 crore.

Speaking about the event, Lt Gen A K Sharma, the army’s Director General Staff Duties, said: “Senior commanders deliberated at length on the prevailing situations along the northern borders, the capacity building endeavours including infrastructural development and measures to provide them requisite impetus.”

Earlier this week, the BRO, which a primary construction agency for border infrastructure development, gave a presentation at the conference, providing an update on the work it has been carrying out along the northern borders, the funds it has received and how it is falling short of their requirement. “Only 60 per cent of demands for funds for all roads under the BRO are being met. This is not enough. Due to the shortage, all road projects, including of the 61 ICBRs and GS roads, will be delayed and cannot be completed on time,” said officials privy to the matter.

There are 73 planned ICBRs whose construction began in 1999. The BRO has been tasked to construct 61 of them, out of which 28 have been completed and the remaining 33 are expected to be completed by 2022.

The matter was also raised in one of the reports tabled in Parliament by the Standing Committee on Defence. The Director General Border Roads had flagged off concerns over the completion of road projects saying: “This year, we have made a slight policy change because these have a fixed timeline of 2022. Dedicated fund is being allocated for east ICBR out of my budget. While I understand this may affect the other GS roads to some extent, this is a criticality for the nation and we have taken this. So, we will be allocating the budget ICBR-wise first.”


Lack of funds trouble defence forces! Indian Army lists out weapon systems it can’t afford to buy

The Indian Army has listed out ammunition and spares that it cannot afford to procure despite the fact that the existing power of the arsenal would not be enough for even 10 days of war, reported IE. It is mandated that the Indian Army has enough ammunition to carry out at least 40 days of intense war. But, the stocks in the arsenal suggest that India can go on for mere 10 days. The Indian Army has listed out weapon systems such as smerch rockets, battle tanks and even some missiles. The army is also formally likely to accept that it was fewer resources for fighting 10 days of war.

After the recent DefExpo 2018, Ashok Leyland bagged the order to supply HMV 10×10 vehicles to the Indian Army. These will be used to carry smerch rockets. The smerch rocker is a Russian made multiple launch rocket system. It is used to target soft targets, artillery batteries and command posts. Another weapon system that the Army listed was the 9M113 Konkurs, the Anti Tank Guided Missile system and the T-90 battle tank. It was reported that the Indian Army did not have enough funds to procure more of these weapon systems, that are crucial for the intense war situation.

According to the Indian Army, the listed weapon systems are extremely expensive. The cost of one unit of T-90 battle tank is estimated to be around Rs 30 crore. Indian which already has around 40 smerch missile systems, is in no position to buy more of it, as it costs beyond the existing budget. It was reported that routine funds were being diverted for these procurements, resulting in a crisis where Indian army has been lacking required ammunition and spares.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley allocated Rs 3,59,894 crore to the Ministry of Defence in this budget session. This budget allocation for defence is the lowest since past one decade. The budget allocation for defence had amounted only 2.3 per cent of India’s GDP. It was reported that the defence forces are in dire need of ammunition and is suffering from a shortage of funds.

This key issue has been constantly been pressed upon and has also been brought up in the ongoing Army Commanders Conference. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on defence had also highlighted the increasing needs of the Indian defence forces and CAG reports also spoke about the critical shortage of ammunition in the Army.Last year, the Deputy Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Sarath Chand had also termed, 65% of arms with India to be in ‘vintage category’.
 It was also reported that the army wishes not to spend its resources on sustaining its existing equipment, but would rather go for procuring new weapon systems. A month earlier, Army Chief Bipin Rawat had said that Indian Army can maintain preparedness and its active operational activities within the budget that has been allocated for the armed forces. However, he had also said that the army would have been happier if they were allocated more budget.


UVZ, Punj Corp tie up to service T-72, T-90 tanks of Indian Army

Russian firm UVZ and Punj Corporation Pvt Ltd (PCPL) have tied up to undertake repair and maintenance of T-72 and T-90 tank engines and radiators in India.

UralVagonZavod (UVZ), which makes main battle tanks, has also appointed PCPL as its sole representative to undertake the repair and maintenance work in India, the companies said in a joint statement today.

An agreement to this effect has been signed between both the companies in Chennai earlier this month, it said.

Indian Army and the Indian Ordnance Board would be able to meet the critical material and logistics supply gaps for T-72 and T-90 Tanks through Indian Rupee procurement.

Awadhesh Mishra, CEO of PCPL told that this agreement would result in an expected business of around Rs 1,000 crore every year as there is a big backlog of repair work of these tanks in India.

The UVZ has said that for all the maintenance and repair activities undertaken by the PCPL including supply of required spares, the UVZ would provide full technical support, personnel and ensure conformance to quality.

It said that India has over more than 4,000 tanks and its serviceability and maintenance has been a major cause of concern.

Igor Kolikov, the Deputy Director General of UVZ has said the requirement of a suitable and simpler mechanism to improve the serviceability of tanks has been a long pending demand of the Indian government. This has now been initiated through the participation of Indian private industry. Mishra said the establishment of a Private Service Centre is the first step in realisation of the Technical Service setup in India and reinforces the commitment by the UVZ to improve the overall serviceability of the UVZ products in India.

Suitable quality control and mobilisation of personnel as per OEM (original equipment manufacturers) guidelines shall be enforced to ensure timely delivery with greater degree of self-reliance, Mishra said in the statement.

UVZ and PCPL have also decided to cooperate in implementation of the "GOCO" (government owned, contractor operated) model for operation of the Army Base Workshops in keeping with the "Make in India" initiative of the government, it added.


Delegation assess Ka-226T helicopter’s performance in Russia

Representatives from the Ministry of Defence recently visited the Kamov Helicopter facility in Moscow and witnessed the performance of Ka-226T helicopters. Russian Helicopters which is a parent company of Kamov Helicopters has been chosen to deliver around 200 units of Ka-226T rotorcraft to India. Earlier, it was decided that the helicopters will be developed by Indo Russian Helicopter Pvt Ltd (IRHL), a joint facility of Russian Helicopters and HAL in Tumakuru in Karnataka.

The officials from the Ministry of Defence and the Indian military officers took part in the demonstration flight of Ka-226T. This visit by the MoD officials comes within the framework of the procurement process. The delegation also visited prototype production facility and design bureau of the Kamov Helicopters.
The delegation also saw the digital models of Ka-226T, first digitally developed Russian rotorcraft.

The production of the same rotorcraft will be initially set up at Ulan-Ude Aviation Plant of Russian Helicopters, and will later be transferred to the joint facility at Tumakuru, under the ambitious Make in India initiative. However, the Ka-226T that will be produced in India will bear a different technical configuration catering exclusively for the Indian defence forces.

The delegation level visit which was earlier discussed during Nirmala Sitharaman’s visit to Moscow has proved to be very beneficial. The delegates were allowed to assess the performance levels of the Ka-226T copters. They were also able to gauge the scientific and technical potential of this Russian helicopter. Director General of Russian Helicopters Andrey Boginskiy said that they were really enthusiastic about delivering 200 units of the Ka-226T.

The light utility Ka-226T copter features a coaxial main rotor system. It has a maximum take-off weight of 3.6 tons. It also has a transporting payload capacity of 1 ton. The Ka-226T can be attached to transport cabin, which can shelter up to 6 people. It has also reported being cost-effective with high-end state-of-the-art avionics suite.

The Government of Karnataka has already allocated over 600 acres of land for the development of the project in Tumakuru. The capital of the joint venture is estimated to be at Rs 30 crore, with HAL holding shares up to 50.5 percent. Russian Helicopter holding 42.5 percent of shares and the rest by Rosoboronexport.


April 20, 2018

$8.63-billion advanced fighter aircraft project with Russia put on ice

The proposal for India and Russia to jointly develop an advanced fighter — the eponymous Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) — has been formally buried. Business Standard has learnt that National Security Advisor Ajit Doval conveyed the decision to a Russian ministerial delegation at a “Defence Acquisition Meeting” in end-February.

Doval and Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra, who attended the meeting, asked the Russians to proceed alone with developing their fifth-generation fighter. They said India might possibly join the project later, or buy the fully developed fighter outright, after it entered service with the Russian Air Force.

New Delhi and Moscow have discussed the FGFA since 2007, when they agreed that Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) would partner Russia’s Sukhoi Design Bureau (Sukhoi) in developing and manufacturing the fighter. In 2010, Sukhoi flew the fighter, called Perspektivny Aviatsionny Kompleks Frontovoy Aviatsii, or “Prospective Airborne Complex of Frontline Aviation” (PAK-FA). Seven prototypes are currently in flight-testing.

Russia said the PAK-FA met its needs, but the India Air Force (IAF) wanted a better fighter. So HAL and Sukhoi negotiated an $8.63-billion deal to improve the PAK-FA with the IAF’s requirements of stealth (near-invisibility to radar), super-cruise (supersonic cruising speed), networking (real-time digital links with other battlefield systems) and airborne radar with world-beating range. In all, the IAF demanded some 50 improvements to the PAK-FA, including 360-degree radar and more powerful engines.

Defence ministry sources who played a direct role in negotiations with Russia say much of this money was earmarked for Indian production facilities for manufacturing 127 FGFAs, and for India’s work share in developing advanced avionics for the fighter. It also included the cost of four PAK-FA prototypes for IAF test pilots to fly.

Now, the IAF has backed away from the FGFA because it argues the PAK-FA — which Sukhoi has been test-flying since January 2010 — is not stealthy enough for a fifth-generation combat aircraft.

Aerospace analysts who support the PAK-FA reject this argument. They point out that the US Air Force F-22 Raptor, was built with an extraordinary degree of stealth, but that proved to be counterproductive, since it resulted in high maintenance and life-cycle costs. Burned by that emphasis on stealth alone, US designers de-emphasised stealth while building their latest fifth-generation fighter, the F-35 Lightning II. Instead, they focused on building its combat edge through better sensors, highly networked avionics and superior long-range weapons.
 The cancellation of the FGFA project has far-reaching implications for the IAF, for which this was once its high-tech future fighter. United Progressive Alliance (UPA) defence minister AK Antony had ruled out buying the F-35 Lightning II, arguing that India would have the FGFA to meet its fifth-generation fighter needs.

Indian aerospace designers also cited the FGFA experience as essential learning for developing the indigenous fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), which the Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) is pursuing.

Now, the FGFA’s burial sets the stage for the IAF to eventually acquire the F-35 Lightning II, which comes in air force as well as naval variants. Indian military aviation, once overwhelmingly dependent upon Russian fighters, helicopters and transport aircraft, has steadily increased its purchases from America. On Tuesday, appearing before a US Senate panel for his confirmation hearings, Admiral Philip Davidson — nominated as the top US military commander in the Indo-Pacific, said the US should aspire to “break down” India’s historical dependence upon Russia.

The IAF has been split down the middle on the FGFA. Broadly, flying branch officers of the “French school”– whose careers have centred on the Mirage and Jaguar fighters — have tended to oppose the FGFA. Meanwhile, officers from the “Russian school”, their careers grounded in the MiG and Sukhoi fleet, have supported the FGFA.

Opponents of the FGFA have even argued that the project would duplicate and hinder the indigenous AMCA project. However, last July, an experts group headed by Air Marshal (Retired) S Varthaman, set up to consider this question, ruled that there were no conflict lines between the FGFA and AMCA. It stated that the technological expertise that would be gained from working with Russian experts would benefit the AMCA project.

In co-developing the FGFA, HAL was expected to deploy its experience in working with composite materials, which were to replace many of the metal fabricated panels on the PAK-FA. India was also expected to participate in designing the 360-degree active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. In addition, the experience of flight-testing the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft would be refined by flight-testing a heavier, more complex fighter.These challenges were expected to imbue Indian engineers with genuine design skills, of a far higher magnitude than the lessons learnt from licensed manufacture.

In addition, the FGFA’s foreclosure means the loss of $295 million that India sunk into its “preliminary design phase” between 2010 and 2013


Fund, ammunition shortage force Army to consider ending purchase of missile systems

In a desperate measure to compensate for a 15 to 20 per cent shortage of critical ammunition, spares and missiles, the Indian Army has proposed to cut down on the purchase of expensive items, as well as discontinue the purchase of spares for vintage platforms to save money.

Among the expensive items the army has identified for the proposal are heavy multiple rocket launchers and anti-tank weapons.

Top sources in the Ministry of Defence told India Today that the on-going Army Commanders Conference - a bi-annual conference of Army commanders chaired by the Indian Army Chief that decides on the future course of action - will discuss this grim situation.

However, even cutting down on purchases of expensive items and discontinuing the spares for vintage items will not be enough for the Indian Army, according to its own estimates.

The commanders will be told that by cutting down on buying expensive items and spares for vintage platform, the force will be able to save between Rs 600 crore and Rs 800 crore over the next three financial years.

But desperate measures will still leave them with a short-fall of critical ammunition requirement of about 15 to 25 per cent.

The Army commanders are likely to consider moving the government for additional funds, top sources indicated.

The three services - the Army, the Navy and the Air Force - were mandated to be ready to fight a 40-day war and, therefore, be equipped accordingly.

But faced with an acute shortage of funds, the government decided to cut down on the war reserves enough to fight short-intense war lasting not more than ten days.

The items that the Indian Army has identified to be expensive include heavy multiple rocket launchers that are used to destroy artillery batteries, command post of the enemy, anti-tank weapons and specialised mines used in battlefields.India Today is aware of the exact nature of the weapon systems but is not publishing the specifications for security reasons.

It must be noted that the stock of these items, currently, is not enough to fight a ten-day war. However, the Army commanders will be told to consider not to consider buying more of these items in order to save costs.

The Army commanders will also consider whether they should altogether stop buying spares for a certain type of air defence missile and certain type of high-mobility vehicles to transport machinery, which are considered to be vintage.

The shortage of critical ammunition and spares has been an issue of concern for the Indian Army. Recently, a Parliamentary committee had urged the Ministry of Defence to ensure that the allocations to the forces be suitably enhanced at the revised estimate stage so as to enable them to meet the requirements of highest level of operational readiness.


Chinese Nuke-Capable H-6K Bombers Spotted Circling Defiant Taiwan (Again)

Nuclear-capable bombers in China’s People’s Liberation Army-Air Force carried out a “sacred” military patrol encircling Taiwan, the military announced Thursday.
"The motherland is in our hearts, and the jeweled island is in the bosom of the motherland," pilot Zhai Peisong said in a statement published on the PLA Air Force's microblog, adding, "defending the beautiful rivers and mountains of the motherland is the sacred mission of air force pilots."
The statement indicated that H-6K bombers conducted another patrol mission around "the jeweled island" of Taiwan "recently."

The Taiwanese Defense Ministry confirmed Thursday that on Wednesday afternoon, a pair of PLA Air Force H-6K bombers traveled over the Miyako Strait to the north of Taiwan before looping south and passing over the Bashi Channel en route to base.
Taipei blamed Beijing for escalating regional tensions with military threats, though in the eyes of the Chinese government, the self-ruling island is Chinese territory.
China's Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Ma Xiaoguang told reporters that "independence separatist activities" presented the biggest threat to maritime security in the Taiwan Strait. "No force and no person should underestimate our resolve and strong ability to defend the nation's sovereignty and territorial integrity," the office said Thursday.
 China has deliberately manipulated [the exercise] to pressure and harass Taiwan in an attempt to spark tensions between the two sides and in the region," Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council spokesman Chiu Chiu-cheng told reporters the same day, adding that Taipei "will never bow down to any military threat or incentive."


Here Are the Details About the Rocket India Wants to Buy From Russia

Made-in-Russia weapons are much sought after in the world, with many countries keeping a close eye on what Russian armorers have on offer.
The S-8 OFP “Broneboishchik” rocket is capable of penetrating barriers without being destroyed on impact, the Techmach Corporation’s general General Director Vladimir Lepin told Rossiiskaya Gazeta.
“What makes the S-8 OFP so special is that, depending on the detonator’s time setting, it can go off in front of an obstacle, when impacting it or after it has cut through it while still staying in one piece. We have never had such missiles before,” Lepin said.
He added that the Broneboishchik will be loaded on Su-25 ground attack planes and Mi-8 helicopters.The S-8 OFP, designed as a replacement for the S-8 80 mm unguided rocket from the 1970’s, is 3.2 feet long, weighs less than 37 pounds and has a range of 3.7 miles.
The state-of-the art rocket was presented to the broad public for the first time at the 2014 DefExpo held in New Delhi.
India has reportedly shown a great deal of interest in acquiring the Broneboishchik for the country’s armed forces.


India’s Defense Team to Visit Russia to Finalize AK-103 Assault Rifle Deal

Top officials of India’s Defense Ministry, along with representatives of the country’s defense industry, are visiting Moscow next week. They will be assessing the Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk so that the government to government agreement on the licensed production in India of the upgraded Kalashnikov AK-103 7.62x51mm assault rifles can be fast-tracked. The development was confirmed by an official of the defense ministry, as well as by industry sources to Sputnik.

The deal was discussed in detail during the Moscow visit of India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month.

“A group of officials from the ordnance factory board of Trichy and Rifle Factory Ichapore will be in Russia on April 24 to assess the Kalashnikov rifle works at Izhevsk. Later on, a defense ministry official will visit Moscow to have detailed discussion with the Russians,” an industry source told Sputnik.

The proposal for the licensed production of AK-103 rifles by the Indian industry enjoys the approval of the Indian Army, which has been facing a longstanding shortage of more than 768,000 assault rifles. Earlier, in February this year, the Nirmala Sitharaman-led Defense Acquisition Council approved the purchase of 740,000 assault rifles for the three services of the Indian Armed Forces.

“These Rifles will be ‘Made in India’ under the categorization of ‘Buy and Make (Indian)’, through both Ordnance Factory Board and Private Industry at an estimated cost of $1.9 billion,” India’s Defense Ministry informed the Parliament on 13 February.

Defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle says the AK 103 is a good option for the Indian Army, as the AK series of assault rifles have proven merit.

“The AK series is a proven combat weapon system which is simple to operate, does not have stoppages and also meets the specifications of the range of rate of fire required. This will meet the requirements in the short to medium term as the Army has been struggling to induct an assault rifle for some years now,” Rahul Bhonsle, retired Indian Army brigadier and defense analyst told Sputnik.

“I expect that the deal will be signed anytime this year. I see a three year period for start of production after the contract is signed,” Bhonsle added.


India Could Acquire Killer Drones After Donald Trump Changes US Policy

India may finally be able to acquire armed drones from the United States that could transform the capabilities of the armed forces not just in strike operations against China and Pakistan over land and sea but also in operations against terrorists.

This comes after the Trump administration came up with a new policy on export of unmanned aerial systems that allows the use of drones to fulfill "'counter-terrorism objectives". The policy comes just a day after US President Donald Trump promised to short-circuit the long-winded process to sell the drones to its allies.

For India, it opens up the possibility of the use of drones in operations against terrorist launch-pads along the Line of Control if the centre were to go ahead with the purchase..

The policy does, however, require safeguards to ensure that partner nations who acquire US drones do not "conduct unlawful surveillance or use unlawful force against their domestic populations". It also says these can be used in operations only when "there is a lawful basis for resorting to the use of force under international law, such as national self defence".

Sales of these drones can now be made through Direct Commercial Sales from companies such as the US firm General Atomics, which has already been in talks with the Indian Navy for sale of 22 Predator B 'Sea Guardian' drones for maritime reconnaissance operations over the Indian Ocean.

While India was so far looking at unarmed versions of the Sea Guardian in a deal estimated to be worth approximately $2 billion, the new policy makes it possible for New Delhi to acquire variants for the Air Force and Army with weaponry including the AGM-114 Hellfire missile which has been used by US forces for precision strikes and targeted killings of high-profile terrorist targets in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
 So far, Indian armed forces operate a host of Israeli made drones including a limited number of IAI Harpy systems, an anti-radiation drone that homes onto radio emissions which it then attacks in a suicide mission where the drone itself is destroyed after it crashes onto its target. The drones India is looking to acquire from the United States are larger, more heavily armed and significantly more capable.

The new US policy clearly states that the US will allow the transfer of drones for use "in situations where it will enhance those partners' security and their ability to advance shared security or counterterrorism objectives".

While the new US policy will be welcomed in New Delhi which has been looking to step up the offensive capability of its drone fleet, there may still be concerns on US "End-Use Monitoring and Additional Security Conditions".

The new policy requires the use of top of the line US-made drones ''shall require periodic consultations with the United States Government on their use".

Typically, this means India would have to allow the visit of US military advisors to military bases to verify how US-built drones are being used.

India has already let Washington know that it considers all End-Use Monitoring to be intrusive though New Delhi realises that US law mandates monitoring under certain circumstances.

For the United States, the Administration's new drone export policy will allow US firms to compete more effectively with foreign competition from strategic rivals such as China.

According to Dr. Peter Navarro, Assistant to US President Donald Trump for Trade and Manufacturing Policy, the market for drones could be worth more than $50 billion a year within the next decade.

"Already, we are seeing Chinese replicas of American [unmanned drone] technology deployed on the runways in the Middle East. In June, at the Paris Air Show, China's Chengdu Aircraft Group featured its Wing Loong II, a clear knockoff of [the] General Atomics Reaper," Dr Navarro said.


April 18, 2018

$2-Billion IAF Base Protector Gun Contest Begins Next Month

A $2 billion contest to purchase close-in weapon systems for the protection of Indian Air Force bases across the country is expected to begin May 15. Livefist can confirm that the Indian MoD is all set to issue requests for proposal (RFP) next month to a handful of Indian companies following a limited tender issued to them in January this year. The ‘Make in India’ program looks to acquire 244 guns, with four each populating 61 flights with 61 radars.
Close-in weapon systems (CIWS) provide a ‘final resort’ point defence layer to bring down inbound enemy missiles, aircraft or drones that have managed to evade and penetrate layers of outer air defence that protect a base, site or ship. Though not directly linked, the Indian MoD cleared the IAF’s requirement for CIWS two months after a Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack on the frontline Pathankot air force base in Punjab which ended with eight Indians killed, including seven security personnel.
The Indian Air Force wants the guns to begin arriving no later than five years from now, Livefist has learned, according priority to the system.
“The program under Buy & Make (Indian) stipulates that 50 per cent of the deal value needs to be made in India. Of the 244 guns, 188 will be made in India,” says S.M. Shivakumar, Vice President – Defence at Bharat Forge Ltd, part of the Kalyani Group, a private Indian components major that has forayed aggressively into the weapons market. Bharat Forge will be responding to the Indian MoD RFP next month proposing a technology partnership with BAE Systems and Israel’s IAI (for the radar) to offer the Bofors 40 Mk.4 gun. The system was on display at DefExpo last week near Chennai.
A prospective list of seven entities stand to compete for the contract after they were issued a limited tender in January this year: Bharat Forge, Mahindra Defence, Punj Lloyd, Larsen & Toubro, Tata Aerospace & Defence, Reliance Defence and a combined proposal from India’s government-owned BEL-OFB. The firms will need to submit their bids by May 15 stipulating the contours of their foreign partnerships for guns and radars. The program, placed on a ‘fast track’ in view of an umbrella threat perception to military facilities in the country, could test the desired MoD paradigm for rapid import of technology for private armament manufacture.
Air defence duties for air force bases are currently carried out by Army Air Defence units that operate L-70 and ZU-23-2B guns, both systems on the market for their own upgrade programs. The new CIWS program looks to transfer the responsibility of ‘last layer’ air defence of air force bases to the Indian Air Force.