October 18, 2017

Fifth Generation Fighter deal. Can India cancel it?

The Narendra Modi government now has a problem on its hands. The Indo-Russian Fifth Generation Fighter Programme (FGFA) was planned about a decade ago and several billion dollars have been spent by both the countries for its design and development.

As far as the Indian Air Force is concerned, the FGFA was part of its future. But with the IAF giving the government its doubts about the project in writing, the Modi government will have problems on its hands. Will it accept the IAF's point and close the programme it has heavily invested in for years? This becomes tricky as the Russians are still India's closest military ally and a decision to not go ahead with it could strain ties. There will also, most certainly, be pressure from the Russians. Going ahead with it would also make the Air Force unhappy.

Along with a report by Air Marshal S Varthaman (retired), the Air Force has sent a note to the Defence Ministry. The note is written by Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans) Air Vice Marshal BV Krishna. But while the Varthaman report appears to support the project, the Krishna papers raise doubts. Naturally, the government will have to go by what the Air Force wants and at this point, the IAF does not seem very keen.

Arun Jaitley, the then defence minister, has already sat through a presentation on the subject. At a recent press conference, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa refused to speak about the subject, saying it was classified. But several points about the Air Force's dissatisfaction with the plane have emerged.

1. The radar cross-section surface area, according to the Russians, will be less than 0.5-metre square. The IAF isn't quite sure that will be the case. In any case, there is a belief it should be 0.2-metre square, comparable with the F-35, the American fighter plane. The higher the cross-section, the more visible the plane to radars, making it easier to track it down and fire missiles at it. A higher cross section makes it more vulnerable.

2. The IAF seems to have doubts about the performance of the engine. An engine is easier to maintain if it follows the "modular concept". There appears to be no certainty if that will be so.

3. There is also the issue of maintenance. The Russian aircraft are usually cheaper but they cost more when it comes to maintenance. The FGFA, however, has been an expensive plane to develop and it is still far from ready. Initially, it was felt the plane would be ready by 2017 and then, 2019. That seems unlikely now.

The note has come in the wake of the Varthaman report which has given the fifth generation fighter the go-ahead. The Air Force apart, the DRDO, the ADA and the HAL were part of the study.

Now, high-level sources said a political decision has to be taken.

India and Russia were close military-strategic allies and this programme was part of the future as far as the two countries were concerned. Russia has supplied India with a nuclear-powered submarine, a point its officials often make. But with the Air Force not very happy with the FGFA, it will be up to the government to do decide whether the deal goes through or not. The decision will also have to be taken at the highest level. There are some concerns about what happens if the deal falls through. Would the Russians play hardball on the S-400 air defence system deal? That is something India wants.


After 36 jets, Rafale to push for Make In India

After selling 36 Rafale fighter jets to India, French government is now pushing for a project to manufacture warplanes here in Indian soil to give a boost to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's push to encourage local manufacturing under ‘Make In India’. And to put Paris’s case strongly, its newly appointed defence minister Florance Parley is visiting New Delhi and will be meeting her Indian counterpart.

According to south block officials, Parly will be landing India with high level delegation on October 26 and on next day she is scheduled to hold series of meetings with Indian officials on issues related to defence cooperation between the two nation.

“Though the visit is aimed towards further strengthening defence cooperation between the two nations, but offering production line in India for Rafale jets is surely will be on cards,” said an official.

Incidentally, Florence Parly of France and Nirmala Sithraman are the only two women to head the Defence Ministry of nuclear-armed nations. Parly will not hold delegation level talks with defence ministry officials, responsible for acquisitions, she will also hold talks with Indian Air Force for better understanding of the force’s requirement. On October 28, she will travel to Nagpur to launch a production facility of Dassault aviation in Nagpur, which has tied with Reliance Defence for offset of over Rs. 20,000 crore.

Dassault Avaition, manufactures of Rafale jets had signed contract worth $11 billion to supply 126 Rafale aircraft and eventually won an order for only 36 planes last year. India had initially agreed to buy all the 126 jets under a long-delayed deal, even mandating Dassault to build some of them locally. But the 126 Medium multi role combat aircraft (MMRCA) tender, issued by the Congress led UPA government was cancelled by the Modi government. But now, IAF is desperate to increase its combat strength- -the key concern, which have been raised by the force on many occasions.

IAF at present operating with 32 squadrons and on the verge of losing out more squadrons as MiG 21 and MiG 27 fleeting is ageing and the Air Force would achieve its sanctioned strength of 42 fighter squadrons by 2032. IAF will have 83 indigenous Light Combat Aircaft Tejas, 36 Rafale and 36 additional Sukhoi fighter jets by end of 2019.

Though, IAF was keen on a follow-on order of 36 additional Rafales to bridge the gap of it depleting combat fleet, but, they are now settling for lighter single engine warplanes. For this, the IAF is will start the process this month to acquire a fleet of single engine fighter jets which are expected to significantly enhance its overall strike capability. But, IAF has already maintained that requirement of twin engine is very much there.

IAF chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, on the occasion of IAF Raising day has made it clear that there is absolutely a need for twin-engine fighter jets. And Rafaje is a twin engine jet.

Besides other features that make the Rafale a strategic weapon in the hands of the IAF is the Beyond Visual Range Meteor air-to-air missile with a range in excess of 150 KM. Its integration on the Rafale jets will mean the IAF can hit targets inside both Pakistan and across the northern and eastern borders while still staying within India's own territorial boundary.

Pakistan currently has only a BVR with 80 km range. During the Kargil war, India used a BVR of 50 km while Pakistan had none. With Meteor, the balance of power in the air space has again tilted in India's favour. Scalp, a long-range air-to-ground cruise missile with a range in excess of 300 km also gives the IAF an edge over its adversaries.


China's Xi Jinping takes his first step to challenge Modi's rising clout in South Asia

Wednesday is an important day for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What makes it important is because of what's happening in neighbouring China.

While Modi is seen as a brave leader who can ignore checks and balances for bold reforms, he is also seen as a strong-arm leader outside India, especially after India’s surgical strikes in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India’s challenge to China during the Doklam standoff only amplified this persona.

On the backfoot after the border skirmish, Xi Jinping is trying to turn the page at the critical once-in-five years party congress of the top leaders of the Communist Party of China. Considered China's most powerful leader since Deng Xiaoping or even Mao Zedong, Xi will try to use the congress to lay the foundation to stay atop the 89-million-strong party even longer than the normal 10 years.

That would break the unwritten two-term limit accepted by his immediate predecessors Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao -- who were by Xi's side at the congress -- and end the era of "collective leadership" aimed at preventing the emergence of another Mao.

The congress is expected to cement Xi's authority that will further strengthen his power to pursue an aggressive policy abroad. The 19th edition of the congress assumes significance for Xi as he will have a far greater ability to choose his colleagues than he had in the last congress held in 2012.

It is because of this the developments in Beijing will be closely watched in Delhi’s policy circles.

Another term for Xi does not augur well for Modi.

First, China has lately started asserting in the world economic sphere, especially with its One-Belt-One-Road (OBOR) project. OBOR needles India as it passes through Indian territory occupied by Pakistan. A stronger and more confident Xi will not only find a new zeal to increase China’s global economic clout but can also flex its economic muscle in the region by investing in more infrastructure projects in the region, which will also give it strategic as well as diplomatic heft at India’s expense.

Second, a stronger and more confidant Xi can also escalate the border tussle with India. Xi wants to make China the number one global power by replacing USA but finds rising India a stumbling block. India’s growing alliances in Indo-Pacific region (Japan, Australia and Southeast nations such as Vietnam, Singapore and Indonesia) and with USA to rebalance China’s aggression is viewed as an obstacle by the Chinese regime.

Xi would like to test India newly acquired confidence, especially with regard to Bhutan. India and Bhutan have a special security arrangement under which India will extend support whenever the Himalayan state faces a security threat.

Doklam may be over but China is not going to digest the humiliation that India posed to it. China may have pulled out of the border tussle due to the upcoming Congress. After the Congress, it can escalate tension with India. India’s Modi-led efforts to gain supremacy in the region will come under serious challenge with a stronger Xi. Modi’s ‘Act East’ policy can face strong resistance from China.

One positive for Modi is that with Xi growing stronger, there will be greater liking for stronger leaders in India. That will ensure he remains popular with the masses.


US to release EMALS technology to India for aircraft carriers

The US has decided to release the crucial Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System for the Indian Navy's future aircraft carrier, according to the Trump administration.

The decision comes ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's visit to India. A formal date of the visit has not been announced yet.

The Trump administration has informed India of its decision.

India had sent a letter of request to the US government during the Obama administration for the Electromagnetic Launch System (EMLAS) built by General Atomics for aircraft carrier planned by the Indian Navy.

Due to its flexible architecture, EMALS can launch a wide variety of aircraft weights and can be used on a variety of platforms with differing catapult configurations.

The Trump administration sent a response to India on Monday about its decision to release this technology.

Aerospace expert Dr Vivek Lall, chief executive, US and International Strategic Development, of General Atomics had told earlier that General Atomics is planning to open an office in Delhi to support the Indian government's military requirements.

The Indian Navy plans to integrate the US-made EMALS catapults into its future supercarriers.

This gesture ahead of the Tillerson's visit is another indication of the strategic alliance US wants to foster with India, informed sources said.

Last month, the Defence Secretary Jim Mattis visited India.


Xi vows resolve, ability to defeat "Taiwan independence"

Xi Jinping said Wednesday the Communist Party of China (CPC) has the resolve, confidence and ability to defeat separatist attempts for "Taiwan independence" in any form.

The CPC stands firm in safeguarding China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never allow the historical tragedy of national division to repeat itself, Xi said while delivering a report at the opening session of the 19th CPC National Congress.

"We will never allow anyone, any organization, or any political party, at any time or in any form, to separate any part of Chinese territory from China," he said.

Beijing considers self-ruled Taiwan a wayward province to be brought under its control by force if necessary, and says that separatists are seeking to split the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang from the rest of the country.

"Recognize the historical fact of the 1992 Consensus and that the two sides both belong to one China, and then our two sides can conduct dialogue to address through discussion the concerns of the people of both sides, and no political party or group in Taiwan will have any difficulty conducting exchanges with the mainland," he said.

The 1992 Consensus embodies the one-China principle and defines the fundamental nature of cross-Straits relations.

"We ... are ready to share development opportunities on the mainland with our Taiwan compatriots first," he said.

"We will ensure that over time, people from Taiwan will enjoy the same treatment as local people when they pursue their studies, start businesses, seek jobs, or live on the mainland, thus improving the wellbeing of Taiwan compatriots," he said.

People from both sides are encouraged to work together to promote Chinese culture and forge closer bonds between them, he said.


October 17, 2017

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas may soon get French array radars

French defence firm Thales has developed an active array radar to meet the specific needs of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) to equip 80 Tejas Mk1A Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) for the Indian Air Force.

The development was shared by Thales in a statement issued today. To meet the needs of HAL, Thales says it is offering a lightweight, compact active array radar. “The latter is a result of Thales’ unmatched expertise as regards the development and mastery of active array technologies – as demonstrated by the RBE2 radar installed on Rafale,” said Thales in a statement.

The firm said it has successfully completed an initial flight test campaign designed to measure its performance. The tests conducted during mid 2017 at the Cazaux air base in France, on a test bench aircraft, focused on meteorological analyses of the radar performance.

“These test flights proved that the radar is fully operational and perfectly corresponds to the specific requirements of HAL for its combat and air superiority missions. It is therefore ready and able to adapt to the tight schedule imposed by the Mk1A LCA,” said Thales.

The radar is designed for air-to-air superiority and strike missions, based on Active Electronically Scanning Array (AESA) technology, enabling the radar to achieve long detection ranges and multi-target tracking capabilities. The radar also provides simultaneous modes of operation for air-to-air, air-to-ground and air-to-sea operation modes, and weapon deployment, according to Thales.

“In just four months, thanks to our solid, proven experience with the RBE2, we’ve been able to carry out successful flights to test the performance of the key features of the radar we’re offering for the TEJAS Mk1A light fighter. This is a clear guarantee of its extremely high degree of operational reliability and clearly sets us apart from our competitors as regards this call for tender,” said Philippe Duhamel, Executive Vice-President, Defence Mission Systems activities, Thales.

Last year, HAL had issued a tender for AESA radars for Tejas Mk-1A LCAs.


October 16, 2017

From assault to sniper rifles, machine guns to carbines, soldiers yet to get basic infantry weapons

Indian Army's foot soldiers are still nowhere close to getting basic modern infantry weapons, ranging from assault rifles and sniper guns to light machine guns and close-quarter battle carbines, after a decade of acquisition projects from abroad being repeatedly scrapped as well as failure of indigenous options to pass muster till now.

The huge delays in the induction of "small arms" for infantry battalions figured in the Army commanders' conference last week, with Gen Bipin Rawat telling his senior Lt-Generals that "our approach to procurement process needs to be balanced with focus at the right places".

Though plans are now on track to plug major operational gaps in artillery guns, air defence missiles and helicopters, "small arms" remain a big worry. As per overall plans, the 12-lakh strong Army needs 8,18,500 new-generation assault rifles, 4,18,300 close-quarter battle (CQB) carbines, 43,700 light machine guns and 5,679 sniper rifles. All these figures also include some weapons for the much-smaller IAF and Navy, say sources.

But all these induction plans, which are supposed to include direct purchase of an initial number of weapons from a foreign vendor followed by large-scale indigenous production with technology transfer, have failed to materialize so far.

In September 2016, for instance, the Army was forced to re-launch its global hunt for new-generation 7.62 x 51mm assault rifles to replace the old glitch-prone 5.56mm INSAS (Indian small arms system) rifles after similar bids over the last decade were scrapped due to corruption scandals, unrealistic technical requirements and change in caliber of the desired guns, as was first reported by TOI.

Sources say the technical parameters or GSQRs (general staff qualitative requirements) for the new assault rifles, with an effective range of 500-metre, have now been finalized. "The case will now be moved for the defence ministry's approval under the `Buy & Make (Indian)' model before the formal tender or RFP (request for proposal) is floated," said a source.

Simultaneously, the Army is testing prototypes of a 7.62mm x 51mm rifle developed by Rifle Factory Ishapore after it held the 5.56mm Excalibur rifle did not meet its requirements of a "higher kill probability".


Government shipyards win Rs 12,000 crore deal to supply 16 ASW craft to Navy

Leaving private sector competitors behind, government shipyards -- Cochin Shipyard Limited and Garden Reach Shipyard Limited -- bagged the order to supply 16 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) craft to the Indian Navy.

Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Make in India' programme, government shipyards are moving ahead of their private sector rivals in warship building as they have emerged winners in a Rs 12,000-crore deal to supply 16 anti-submarine warfare (ASW) craft to the Navy.

"As tenders for the Rs 12,000-crore deal were opened, the shipping ministry's Cochin Shipyard Limited and defence ministry's Garden Reach Shipyard Limited (GRSE) emerged as the two lowest bidders," a defence ministry source told Mail Today.

This is the third open tender deal involving competitive bids in the recent past which has gone to public sector firms. Recently, the Hindustan Shipyard Limited (HSL) won the contract for building two diving support vessels (DSVs) worth Rs 2,020 crore after it emerged as the lowest bidder.

Under the ASW shallow water craft deal, CSL emerged as the lowest bidder and GRSE the second lowest. The second lowest bidder will have to build the eight crafts at the price offered by the lowest bidder as per the tender issued by the Navy.

As per the defence procurement procedure, the company offering the lowest price for a particular weapon system is given the contract among the firms which meet technical requirements specified in the tender document.

When the private sector firms were allowed to bid for defence contracts, it was felt that they would be quoting lower prices than government firms, but this has proved to be otherwise.

In the recent past, there have been cases where Navy and Coast Guard projects have been delayed by private shipyards and in some of the cases, the delay has been by many years.

In one such case, a Gujarat-based shipyard has been able to supply only one out of six survey vessels ordered by the Navy even 10 years after signing the deal. In another case, a major private shipyard has not supplied even a single patrol vessel out of the contract for five signed more than six years ago.

Some of the major private sector shipyards are facing serious financial constraints and were cleared by the government for receiving tenders only after conditional clearances were granted to them by the defence ministry's finance wing.

Due to the improved performance of defence shipyards, the Goa Shipyard Limited was nominated by the government for partnering with the Russians for manufacturing four Talwar-Class follow-on warships worth more than Rs 20,000 crore.


October 14, 2017

Israel's Heron TP Armed Drone May Not Find Its Way to Indian Skies

New Delhi's ambition of obtaining technology for the manufacture of armed drones has received a major setback with the Israeli ministry of defense imposing several restrictions on the expert of Heron TP - a combat UAV India was particularly interested in.
 The Indian defense ministry approved the purchase of 10 Heron TP drones last year and a final deal with the Israeli manufacturer was in the offing. However, the imposition of restrictions by the Israeli defense ministry has pushed the deal towards uncertainty as India's proposal for the purchase posed a mandatory requirement of transfer of technology from the foreign vendor.
In July of this year, Israel had exhibited keen interest in supplying combat drones to India with the Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) signing memorandums of understanding (MoU) with India's Dynamatic Technologies and Elcom for the "manufacture of Medium Altitude Long Endurance UAVs in India under technology transfer from IAI & creation of futuristic UAV enterprise in India." The MoUs were signed during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit which was the first ever visit by an Indian Prime Minister to"The future is unmanned. Most Air Forces are working to have an uninhabited air vehicle for every possible mission.
The USA already has more UAVs than aircraft. India must become an independent UAV manufacturer. No one will give technology. (We should either) beg, borrow or steal the technology…Use economic muscle like China did…Increase research funding," Air Marshal Anil Chopra (retired), defense analyst told Sputnik. Israel.

With the restrictions in sharing of advanced technologies, the Israel Aerospace Industries will find it extremely difficult to convince India to buy it's million dollar combat drones. For India's part, it would have to explore the possibility of a favorable deal with other contenders like American General Atomics Aeronautical Systems which is interested in selling the MQ-9 Reaper to India.
"The restrictions that the Israeli Ministry of Defense attaches to the export of this advanced UAV are many, and in such a close competition, maybe, a crucial factor," one Israeli source told Flightglobal.
Israel Aerospace Industries also announced a new export-version of the Heron TP on February 9th of this year at the AeroIndia exhibition in Bengaluru. The export version of Heron TP was meant for members of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) of which India became a member in June 2016.
Meanwhile, India is currently developing its own combat drone — Ghatak. However, even if everything goes according to plan, the drone will only debut by 2025. India is under extreme pressure to instantly deliver combat drones to its armed forces as the Chinese military is set to get the first locally manufactured combat drones with the capability of evading anti-aircraft weapons by as early as 2020.
"India is developing the Ghatak drone which may not be capable of operating in a heavily contested airspace because of its low observability (LO). We do need the technology to launch weapons from drones. Predator B and Heron TP are both capable of releasing weapons and acquiring these drones would give India access to the technology," Vijainder K Thakur, former squadron leader of Indian Air Force told Sputnik.
The Indian Air Force's fleet of 68 unarmed Harpy Drones and 108 searchers also came from Israel, but these are generally used to neutralize enemy radar positions and are designed to self-destruct.


French defence giant Safran keen to supply engines to HAL for indigenous helicopter

Hindustan Aeronautics is looking for 3,000 shp class twin engines for the rotorcraft.
Safran Helicopter Engines, manufacturer of gas-turbine engines for both civil and military helicopters, is developing a new family of high-power engines called Aneto. The French manufacturer is looking to supply its engines to Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which had floated a global request for information (RFI) for the purchase of engines to power its home-made multi-role helicopter.
Developed as part of the Safran’s research and development roadmap, the Aneto family of engines features several models covering 2,500-3,000 shp (shaft horsepower) power range, known as heavy helicopter engines.
HAL’s RFI had stipulated that the State-owned firm is looking for 3,000shp-class twin engines and is aiming to fast-track development of its indigenous helicopter.
HAL is engaged in the design and development of rotary wing aircraft with state-of-the-art technologies. The company intends to purchase the engine under a technology-transfer agreement.
HAL aims to develop the 12tonne-class Indian Multi-Role Helicopter (IMRH), which will be designed to offer a service ceiling of around 20,000 feet, 3,500-kg payload with a seating capacity of 24. The aircraft will be able to assist in combat search-and-rescue, tactical troop transport, casualty evacuation, sling-load transportation, anti-surface operations and off-shore operations, among other activities.
The proposed IMRH is to be powered by twin engines and equipped with an automatic flight-control system. Initially, the indigenous helicopters will be aimed at the Indian Air Force, while a naval variant also is on the cards.
The new Aneto engines by Safran boast of an exceptional power-to-volume ratio, offering 25 per cent more power compared with existing engines of the same volume. The company has said this will provide increased capabilities, especially for offshore, search-and-rescue or military transport missions.
HAL’s RFI for the “supply of suitable turbo shaft engine for IMRH programme” has also evinced interest from other foreign OEMs. Sources indicated that the RFI relates to turbo shaft engines, assistance with development of a blade-folding system and external reviews of the 12-tonne rotorcraft’s landing gear and transmission.
Design and development of the landing gear will also be undertaken by HAL’s Rotary Wing Research Design Centre. The duration of the design review period is six years.


Navy 'Sniper': What's So Special About Russia's New Ka-52K Katran Attack Chopper

Russian Helicopters corporation has confirmed that the Ka-52K Katran attack helicopter remains the company's priority project for the Russian Navy, given that it is much better suited to Navy tasks than its Mi-28N and Ka-52 cousins. Military observer Andrei Kotz explains what's so special about the chopper.
The Ka-52K, the naval variant of the Kamov Ka-52 Aligator assault helicopter, was originally designed for use aboard the Mistral-class amphibious assault ships ordered by the Russian Defense Ministry in 2010. The compact ship-borne chopper design features folding rotor blades and wings, a specialized life-support system (including immersion suits for crew), and advanced new sea-mode fire-control radar with support for anti-ship missiles.
The chopper also has reinforced heavy-duty landing gear, ensuring improved crew survivability in case of an emergency landings. A special anti-corrosion treatment is applied to the fuselage, locking out moisture and sea salt, saving the helicopter from rust and extending its service life. Other improvements over the base Ka-52 include a new ventilation system connected to flight suits to keep crew nice and cool during flight.
At the height of the crisis in Ukraine and amid pressure from its NATO allies, France canceled the Mistral deal in 2015 and sold the ships to Egypt instead.  Although Egypt will purchase a full complement of Katrans for its Mistrals, in Russia the unique helicopter has had a more difficult fate, since the Navy does not yet have specialized ships capable of making use of its advanced capabilities.

According to RIA Novosti military observer Andrei Kotz, the Katran is not just a Navy variant of the Ka-52, but arguably a chopper with superior combat capabilities over its army cousin.
For example, Kotz noted that "the Ka-52K features a short-range radiotechnical navigation system, not found on the base Ka-52. Over the ocean its not always possible to find a reference point, while building a route guided by the stars is possible only on a cloudless nights. The new system makes it much more difficult for the Katran to get lost at sea."
Furthermore, the expert explained that "to detect targets, the Katran is equipped with the powerful Zhuk-A active phased array radar – the system fitted aboard the latest models of the Su-27 and the promising MiG-35 fighters. This system can detect tanks, aircraft and enemy ships at a range of up to 200 km, accompanying up to 30 targets at a time, and simultaneously firing on up to eight."

The Katran's main armament is expected to include the new Hermes-A anti-tank guided missile, whose 20 km range significantly exceeds that of the Vikhr ('Whirlwind') and the Ataka ('Attack') missiles equipped aboard the Ka-52 and Mi-28N, respectively. (The Vikhr's range is 10 km, and the Ataka's is 6 km.)
"In this way," Kotz wrote, "the Katran does not need to enter the enemy's short-range air defenses to destroy its targets, thus transforming it from a 'flying tank' into an effective 'sniper'."Combined with the impressive features of the base Ka-52, including its armored cockpit, unique ejection system (which literally blows rotor blades aside via explosive charges in the rotor disc upon ejection), the coaxial layout of the rotors themselves, which give the chopper excellent control in strong lateral winds, and its modern on-board radio-electronic equipment, the Katran is truly a a universal combat system.
At the moment, the Russian Navy has only one squadron of pre-mass production series Ka-52s. Mass production is expected to begin in 2020. At the moment, thanks to the cancelation of the Mistral deal, the Navy does not yet to have a genuine, highly specialized helicopter carrier that can take advantage of all of the Katran's features.
However, amid testing on the Admiral Gorshkov frigate and the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier, there is a chance that the Katran will become the Navy's universal attack chopper.Moreover, with the Navy confirming earlier this year that it expects to receive two new helicopter-carrying amphibious assault ships before 2025, analysts believe the design most likely to be built is the Priboy-class, a next-gen amphibious assault ship which analysts consider superior to the Mistral. In addition to up to 500 marines and 50 pieces of armor, Priboy-class ships will be able to to carry up to 15 Ka-29 assault transports, Ka-27 anti-sub warfare choppers, and Ka-52K assault helicopters, thus ensuring the unique Katran design a stable future.


US should support independent Balochistan: American lawmaker

The US should support the Baloch people and other oppressed groups in Pakistan, who are being subject to grave human rights violations for demanding the right to self-determination, a senior American lawmaker has said.

Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said Pakistan needs to remember what happened in 1971, referring to developments in then East Pakistan which later on became Bangladesh after years of Pakistani human rights abuses and persecution of the local population.

Resource-rich Balochistan, Pakistan's largest but least populated province, has been wracked by a long-running separatist insurgency which has seen brutal repression by Pakistani security forces and enforced disappearances.

"When the people of Bangladesh wanted to be a little independent of the Pakistani government, have some way to control their own lives and control their own government, they were brutally repressed by the Pakistani government, and that is what led to, basically, the uprising of the people in Bangladesh when they freed themselves," Rohrabacher said yesterday in the US House of Representatives.

That same type of oppression is continuing not only against the Baloch, but also against the Muhajirs who came over from India after Partition, he said.

Rohrabacher said the Muhajirs do not want to be subjugated by "this corrupt, militaristic, pro-terrorist" government of Pakistan.

"We should be siding with people like that who want their independence and believe in these same values that we believe in," he said, adding, the US needs to be supporting the Baloch.

"The Baloch are also persecuted, mainly persecuted by the Pakistanis who have them under their thumb, and they murder people constantly," he alleged.

"This is the history of Pakistan. Right now they are doing it to the Baloch, to the Sindhis, you name it. You have got just a group of people, except for the Punjabis and then others, the Pashtuns, who control that government in Pakistan," Rohrabacher said.