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Thursday, 12 February 2009

From Today's Papers - 12 Feb 09

Antony: Security in India's vicinity will worsen
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 11
Addressing a press conference here at the inaugural session of Aero India-2009, Defence Minister AK Antony said the government was of the view that the security situation in "India's vicinity" would further deteriorate.

Antony said the armed forces in the country were being equipped with latest weapons in view of the turbulent situation prevailing in the neighbourhood.

He announced that in view of the threats, the armed forces were being empowered to go for fast-track acquisition of weapons. "A system was being put in place to ensure transparency in the purchases," Antony said.

The minister said India was "still" pursuing the diplomatic channel with Pakistan to bring to book the people responsible for the recent terror attacks in Mumbai.

"Our restrain should not be interpreted as a sign of weakness," he said.

Aero India-2009 takes off

Four companies showcase their fighter aircraft

Ajay Banerjee and Shubhadeep Chaudhary

Tribune News Service

Bangalore, February 11

Even as the comparative analysis for India's next generation of fighter aircraft is more than two months away, four of six players in the race to sell 126 combat aircraft to India showcased some of the best fighter aircraft in the world as they flew over the skies at the opening of the Aero India here today.

But for the French built Rafale and the Swedish Gripen, the other four companies in the race gave a brief preview of their machines today.

Though defence analysts said "this was just an air show and no technical evaluation was done" the intent of the companies and its pilots was clear. They are here to present the planes to create a visual impact even as the IAF has announced that it will conduct its technical trials in April-May. At $11 billion this is, at present, the biggest deal for fighter aircraft anywhere in the world and is called the medium range multi-role combat aircraft deal.

Each of the pilots of the Eurofighter built by EADS, The F-16 built by US major Lockheed Martin, the F-18 hornet built by Boeing and the Russian built MiG 35 wanted to be one up the other. Apart from the Lockheed Martin's F16 all the three are twin-engined fighters. The twin engine offers more reliability and survivability especially in Indian conditions where bird hits are common and can stall an engine.

For the Russians the selling point for its machine is "With India for India". Clearly, India's oldest defence ally is playing on the emotional factor and also has promised to transfer technology for building the MiG 35 in India itself.

Other players know that India is hedging its options and has already opted to have long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft from the US in $2.1 billion deal. The French company Dassault designed that manufactured Rafale has asserted that its product was the best next-generation option and would bag the deal "if the competition was fair" , this claim was made a few weeks ago by Jean -David Levitte.

Later in the evening, the French Defence minister, Jean Marie Bockel, clarified as to why the Rafale, manufactured by French company Dassault was not flown today when all other competing fighters were displaying their prowess. He said all the available fighters were deployed in Afghanistan.

Raytheon Offers Radar System
for India's Homeland Security


Bangalore
With India going into overdrive to secure its coastline in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks, US defence major Raytheon is positioning its airborne standoff radar (ASTOR) as the ideal solution for the country's homeland security.

"This may be something of interest to India. There's a lot of opportunity here," Mike Henchey, Raytheon's vice president for space and airborne systems, told IANS.

Pointing to the success achieved by the British defence ministry in operating the system, Henchey, who is here for Aero India-2009 that opened Wednesday, said he hoped to discuss its benefits with Indian officials during the five-day international air show.

The ASTOR system, Raytheon says, provides a highly effective 24-hour surveillance and target acquisition capability. It delivers wide area, all weather surveillance and reconnaissance imagery in near real time for peacekeeping, war fighting and homeland security needs.

Raytheon, which has had a presence in India for the past 60 years, views India's new policy for procuring military hardware as an opportunity for building long term partnerships that would benefit the country economically and industrially.

"We see the offsets clause as an opportunity for partnerships and we would be very pleased to work with our partners here," Henchey pointed out.

"We see it as a long-term benefit for India. We have a great future together from the economic and industrial standpoint," he added.

The offsets clause in the Defence Procurement Procedure-2008 (DPP-2008) enunciated last year mandates the reinvestment in India of 30 percent of all defence deals valued at over Rs.3 billion.

"We see it as an opportunity to pave the way for the exchange of technical know-how," Henchey said, adding: "We are open to joint development (of products) and are talking to a lot of people and government (about this)."

Toward this, Raytheon has already signed memoranda of understanding with eight Indian companies: Tata Power, Larsen & Toubro, Godrej & Boyce, Data Patterns,
Precision Electronics, Astra Microwave, and Amphenol India in the private sector and with state-owned Bharat Electronics Ltd.

"We are still in discussions with these companies and therefore have not yet finalized the specifics of our agreements. Broadly speaking, we do expect the work will likely be in the areas of electronics manufacturing and defence services," said Ron Colman, Manager (Integrated Communications) at Raytheon SAS.

The company, which provided the antenna, transmitter, analog receiver and software for Mini-RF sensor system aboard India's ongoing maiden moon mission Chandrayaan-1, is also a partner in two big-ticket defence deals.

The first of these relates to an Indian Air Force order for 126 combat jets, with Raytheon supplying radars and missiles for the two US aircraft that are in the fray - the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet and the Lockheed Martin F-16IN Super Viper.

This apart, Raytheon missiles are mounted on two other aircraft in the running: the Swedish Grippen and the Eurofighter Typhoon that is manufactured by a four-nation European consortium. The other two aircraft are the French Rafale and the Russian MiG-35.

The two US aircraft come with the cutting edge technology advanced extended search array (AESA) radar that enables the plane function in the manner of an airborne warning and control system (AWACS), greatly enhancing its battlefield capabilities.

"For the missiles, we have the AMRAM, the Sidewinder, the Harm, the Paveway, and the Maverick. We have a great portfolio and we're looking forward to that opportunity," Henchey pointed out.

The other deal, which has already been signed, relates to the purchase of eight Boeing P8I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft by the Indian Navy.

Raytheon will provide eight AN/APY-10 radars, plus spares, for the aircraft, pending final clearance of the contract from US authorities.

"It's not just the initial sale, we're here for providing long-term support," Henchey said.

India not to scale down defence expenditure: Antony


BS Reporter / Bangalore February 11, 2009, 13:09 IST


Union Defence Minister A K Antony, today said despite economic recession, the country will not scale down its defence expenditure and continue to acquire new weapons. "There is no compromise with our ongoing acquisition programmes. Our government's emphasis is on public-private partnership in the defence industry," he said.

Inaugurating the five-day seventh edition of Aero India 2009, billed as the biggest biennial event in South Asia, he said the defence industry is now open up to 100 per cent Indian private sector participation, while foreign direct investment is permissible upto 26 per cent.

The air show took off from the Indian Air Force (IAF) station at Yelahanka, about 20km from the city. Defence minister inaugurated the event amid tight security and in the presence of about 5,000 people including B S Yeddyurappa, chief minister of Karnataka, dignitaries, diplomats and air chiefs from the world over were treated to a two-hour long spectacular show by scores of IAF pilots.

"Aero India 2009 will showcase India's emergence as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms. It fulfills all the prerequisites-low cost skilled engineers, good organisations, software and technology. I am confident that Aero India 2009 will provide ample opportunities to the domestic and international players in the aerospace and aviation sectors to tap the market and the business potential for mutual benefit," Antony said.

The defence minister further said the country has always been recognised as a responsible power and a stabilising factor in this region in the face of various secuity challenges originating from different sectors around us. "Our sustained economic growth provides ample opportunities to our neighbours to tap into this economic dynamism. The onus lies with them to derive gains from it," he added.

The inauguration of Aero India 2009 was marked by fly-past and breath-taking manouveres from IAF's assorted aircraft -- Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage 2000, Jaguar, MiG-35, F-18 Super Hornet, F-16 Fighing Falcon, Eurofighter Typhoon, super-sonic jet trainer Hawk and sub-sonic trainer Kirans and a slew of Sarang helicopters.

Four indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) of the state-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) scrambled over the gathering, while a IAF fleet of Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) aerobatic team christened Sarang kept the spirits soaring high.

IAF's transport behemoths and air-to-air re-fuelling aircraft IL-78 had the spectators in awe with their sheer size and functionality mid-air.

"Growing in stature, size and public participation, the air show has emerged as the most important event in South Asia, drawing global attention," defence secretary (production) Pradeep Kumar said in his introductory remarks.

With 25 countries participating and 50 official delegations, including many led by their defence ministers and air chiefs descending, the Indian version of the air show has come of an age to turn into a war theatre for the world's major aerospace firms and global consortiums.

About 592 firms, including 303 from overseas and 289 from the Indian sub-continent are showcasing their products and technologies spanning military and civilian sectors to woo the country's three armed services and the burgeoning aviation industry.

Among them are American Lockheed Martin with its strike fighter F-16, Boeing with its F-18 Super Hornet, Russian MiG with MiG-35, European consortium with Eurofighter (Typhoon) and HAL/IAF with Sukhoi, Hawk, Intermediate Jet (IJT), Dhruv.

The Indian government is set to invest a whopping $30 billion over the next five years to modernise and upgrade its mighty defence services.

Spanning an area of 44,000 square metres as against 30,000 square metres in 2007, the exhibition area has five international pavilions hosting Australia, Belgium, Germany, Israel and Romania, 54 chalets and about 600 stalls to house international and Indian firms and a host of facilities forming the eco-system.

Near-Miss Case
Air Chief defends IAF pilots of Prez fleet
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 11
The blame game has begun over the near-miss, involving the IAF chopper carrying the President Pratibha Patil's entourage and the Air India aircraft, at the Mumbai airport. The near-miss has resulted in visible friction between the IAF and the civil aviation authorities.

Rejecting suggestions that IAF pilots who were part of the President's convoy could be responsible for the incident, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major today categorically stated that his pilots were not in the wrong and that the DGCA needed to fine tune its procedures.

Reports emanating from Mumbai indicated that that the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Wednesday refused to comment on the Air Chief's statement. However, reacting to Major's statement, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said he did not want to get into any controversy as the DGCA probe was still on but he did add that "maybe the Air Chief had some better information on his side," indicating that the remarks had not gone down too well with him.

Patel also admitted that a good working relationship was lacking between civil and defence authorities as far as airspace management was concerned.

"We have to learn to work together…airspace should be better managed between civil aviation and defence authorities. Right now we do not have a good working relationship between civil aviation and defence authorities," he said.

Indo-Bangladesh border sealed? It's a big joke

VK Shahshikumar and Arijit Sen

CNN-IBN

http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/common/zero.gif

NO BARRIER: Fencing of Indo-Bangladesh border has made little difference for infiltrators.

New Delhi: The porous and soft Indo-Bangladesh border is becoming a hub for terrorist infiltration.

A CNN-IBN investigation shows how fragile and unguarded our borders in the east are. Rampant smuggling of goods has shown how completely ineffective the border fencing has been at places, and how this route has been used and utilised by infiltrators.

People of the bordering villages simply walk across from Bangladesh into India and vice versa as the villages are just next to each other and the houses are cheek by jowl.

The people live in such close proximity that it becomes difficult for the Border Security Force (BSF) to distinguish between Bangladeshis and Indians.

It's easy for an infiltrator or terrorist to walk in and to take shelter in any house in the villages.

So infiltrators can get into a safe house, stay there for a period of time to get their Indian documentation basically a ration card and carry on into heart of the country.

CNN-IBN met Aslam in Bangladeshi territory who said that he spends most of his time in the Indian border village of Haripukur.

The houses along the South Dinajpur stretch of the border show how it's virtually impossible for the government to check border infiltration through fencing.

Terrorists don't need an elaborate plan to enter India. All they have to do is reach a border village in Bangladesh, which is contiguous with a village in India and then simply walk across.

The border village of Haripukur exemplifies the problem of effectively dominating India-Bangladesh border.

In villages like Haripukur it's impossible for an outsider to figure out where the border begins and where it ends. At times even BSF patrols are confused and have to tread cautiously.

A house is the village stocks up goods that are eventually smuggled into Bangladesh. For instance, there is bottle phensedyl that are smuggled from India into Bangladesh.

The Zero Line has no sanctity in the border villages and smuggling is rampant, with the Bangladesh Rifles often looking the other way.

Many villagers who live along the border depend on smuggling for their livelihood.

Not surprisingly, they dislike the BSF.

The moment a sack full of cough syrup bottles is found, the villagers close ranks.

With houses so close to each other and the proximity to the border makes BSF's job extremely difficult.

In fact, they have made a proposal to shift such border villages further inside so that there is a separation zone, a buffer zone between the Zero Line and the border outpost that BSF mans.

But residents of Haripukar village are against any such move.

"It would be a great inconvenience for us since all our properties and lands are here. Our earning comes from our lands and it can not be shifted back," says Sheikh Younis, a resident of Haripukur.

A Mosque at the border is uniquely placed. While the main building is in Bangladesh, the wall is in India.

Villagers tell off camera that at night infiltrators come in and it is impossible even for the BSF to be at every corner of the border villages like Haripukur.

The way it is at the moment it's impossible to either fence or to put soldier at every point.

While relatives on both sides of the border, people move easily and there is a booming illegal trade of smuggling goods.

A narrow strip of land in the middle of a pond marks the Zero Line. An elderly Bangladeshi man showed the border pillar that lies submerged.

The border is very porous and it is just impossible to have a human chain of BSF across the border to plug it.

So when New Delhi says that the Indo-Bangladesh border has been sealed the reality is that any can break the seal by just walking across.

http://static.ibnlive.com/pix/common/zero.gif

Pakistan's nukes not a deterrent for India, says Antony

PTI | February 11, 2009 | 21:14 IST

Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday dismissed suggestions that Pakistan's nuclear capabilities may be a factor in any hesitation by India to carry out a surgical strike against terror camps and said its restraint should not be construed as a weakness.

"It (nuclear weapons with Pakistan) has nothing to do with that (decision not to strike). India's restraint should not be taken as a weakness," Antony told reporters on the sidelines of the Aero India show in Bangalore.

Blaming 'responsible elements in Pakistan' for the November 26 Mumbai terror strikes, he said the attacks were inspired and sponsored by these sections in the western neighbour.

Stating that the security situation in the region would not change in the near future, the minister said, "I do not think there is going to be a big improvement in our vicinity."

He said modernisation of the armed forces was a top priority of the government and added that the meltdown, though it had impacted the nation's economy, would not be allowed to affect the budgetary allocations for defence of the country.

"We all know that there has been some impact of recession. Compared to other countries, we are less affected. But we still have problems. Despite this, modernisation of the defence forces will be our highest priority and it will continue," he added.

'Attacks on India likely to continue'

Suman Guha Mozumder in New York | February 11, 2009 | 08:24 IST

A Rand Corporation study on the November 26 terrorist attacks on Mumbai has concluded that India will remain a target of Pakistan-based terrorism for the foreseeable future because of the inability of New Delhi and the international community to compel Islamabad to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure in that country.

Titled 'Lessons of Mumbai', the report posts the possibility of an escalating terrorist campaign in the region and the rise of a 'strategic terrorist culture'.

Citing Pakistan's 'inherent incapacities' to dismantle its terrorist infrastructure and the expanding participation of Indians in Islamist violence, Angel Rabasa of the Rand Corporation, lead author of the report, said all of these coalesced into a grim prospect for the subcontinent.

Asked to elaborate on the doomsday scenario, Rabasa said, "There is an infrastructure of terrorist groups in Pakistan that have been targeting India at least for the past 15 years. and there seems to be very little indication so far that the government of Pakistan is able or willing to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure."

"There are some limitations as far as India and the international community is concerned with regard to the Pakistani policy and to the presence of these terrorist groups in Pakistan. As long as these terrorist groups are in place, they will target India. There are two basic premises: one, that these attacks are likely to continue as long as this terrorist infrastructure continues to be present in Pakistan and two, that there has been an unwillingness or inability on the part of the Pakistani authorities to shut down these infrastructures."

The root cause of the problem, Rabasa says, is that there are different power centres in Pakistan, and the civilian government is incapable of controlling the army and the Inter Services Intelligence. "It is conceivable that even the Pakistani military establishment may not have control over elements in the ISI that continue to support these terrorist groups. We do not see Pakistan as a unified actor in dealing with terrorist groups there are multiple power centres. It is very hard to engage Pakistan to a reasonable degree."

All of this coupled with the nuclear deterrent, Rabasa argues in the study, limits India's options. "There is always a risk of escalation to nuclear level," Rabasa says, arguing why India cannot safely consider an armed response. "It seems to me that the Pakistani nuclear doctrine does not preclude the first use of nuclear weapons. Asif Ali Zardari has walked back from that at some points, but then he does not control the nuclear weapons of Pakistan. The ultimate decision makers, I guess, are the military in Pakistan. This is the constraint for conventional action as far as India is concerned."

Further, Rabasa argues, terrorist groups in Pakistan have diversified their infrastructure, "and so it is very difficult to disable these groups by a military strike on their facilities. You can always use military means, but the question is whether it would achieve the objective, mainly dismantling the terrorist infrastructure in that country."

Asked about India's use of massive international diplomacy and whether it could form an effective strategy, Rabasa said the point worth keeping in mind is that as far as the US is concerned, Pakistan has become the epicentre of global terrorism.

"Al Qaeda has established itself in the tribal areas of Pakistan and there are also other terrorist groups. Even the United Kingdom has suffered terrorist attacks that had links to Pakistan. Terrorists finding sanctuaries in Pakistan is an international problem and therefore, there is a major international interest in securing Pakistani cooperation in dismantling these terrorist infrastructures."

Rabasa pointed out that if the US was to succeed in its offensive against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, it had to start by eliminating terrorist sanctuaries. "The US is constrained by the fact that it relies on Pakistan for logistical support for its operations in Afghanistan. Therefore, to be able to find ways to persuade sectors in Pakistan that tolerate these terrorist groups, the US needs to find ways to review its reliance for logistical support on Pakistan," Rabasa said, arguing that as long as the US was reliant on Pakistan support, it would lack full freedom to move against terrorist infrastructures in the region.

The comprehensive study points the finger directly at the Lashkar-e-Tayiba for the Mumbai attacks, but stops short of arguing that there was some level of complicity by the ISI. "We know that LeT has historically had links with ISI -- in fact, the LeT was established with the support of the ISI," Rabasa pointed out.

"But we do not have enough information to make the judgment as to whether ISI, or elements within the ISI, were involved in the terror attack or had knowledge of this specific operation. The LeT has been allowed to operate very openly in Pakistan, but we do not have enough evidence to suggest that there was complicity between the ISI and LeT."

France Backs India's Role in Defense Circles

By pierre tran

Published: 11 Feb 15:23 EST (20:23 GMT)

BANGALORE - France supported a larger role for India in global political and economic governance, and stood behind French industry's efforts to forge closer links with Indian partners, Jean-Marie Bockel, the junior minister for defense and veteran affairs, said Feb. 11 at the Aero India show.

Bockel also said talks between Europe's MBDA and India's Defence Research Development Organisation on development of a short-range surface-to-air missile had been concluded and confirmation is awaited by national security authorities.

A long-awaited contract for Thales to modernize avionics on the Indian Air Force's Mirage 2000 combat aircraft to the most powerful version available could be expected soon, he said.

"The conditions are right for an early conclusion of the contract," he said. "I am confident it will be a quick decision."

Bockel told a news conference that in a meeting with Indian Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Defence Secretary Vijay Singh, he relayed remarks by French President Nicolas Sarkozy that Paris supported India's place in an expanded G8 and G20 group of nations, and a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.

France set great importance to its strategic partnership with India and the military links between the countries, which included close relations between the chiefs of staffs of the Army, Air Force and Navy, Bockel said. Both countries were joined in the fight against terrorism, he added.

On French relations with Pakistan in the wake of the Bombay attacks, Bockel said Paris has asked Pakistan for full cooperation at all levels of the state in fighting terrorism.

The French government stood behind offers by French companies bidding in Indian competitions, and would approve technology transfers to help India build up domestic capabilities, he said.

As an example of technology transfer, the first two Indian Air Force Mirage 2000s would be modernized in France, while the rest of the fleet would be upgraded in India, he said. The building of the Franco-Spanish Scorpene conventional powered submarines in India and the work on the short-range surface-to-air missile were other examples of technology transfer, he said.

Asked why the Rafale combat aircraft was not at the airshow, Bockel said the planes were needed in the Afghan theater, where they were supporting coalition troops. The aircraft were appreciated by the Afghan government and coalition forces, he said.

On building civilian nuclear power, Bockel said France had never stopped developing atomic energy and was working in partnership with other countries.

Bockel was accompanied by the French ambassador, Jerome Bonnafont, former spokesman for President Jacques Chirac in the previous administration.

Only Europeans Bid for Indian Helicopter Tenders

By pierre tran

Published: 11 Feb 15:20 EST (20:20 GMT)

BANGALORE - AgustaWestland, Eurocopter and Russian state agency Rosoboronexport have submitted bids for India's tender for 22 attack helicopters, as American companies Bell and Boeing quit the field, company executives said Feb. 11 at Aero India 2009.

India's plans to recapitalize its military helicopter fleet for combat, reconnaissance and surveillance, and naval missions have been a big talking point at the airshow, with total demand estimated at 400 to 500 aircraft, the executives said.

Meanwhile, a VVIP helicopter requirement is widely viewed as going to AgustaWestland's AW101 and awaits a signing by the Indian authorities, British and American industry executives said.

"The tender for the supply of 12 VVIP helicopters to the Armed Forces has reached a critical significant stage," AgustaWestland said in statement.

AgustaWestland offered an export version of the A129 at the end last year, a company spokesman said. The proposal met all the main requirements, including the 50 percent direct industrial offset, he said.

"The 129 is at the lighter end of the attack helicopter market," the spokesman said. "In terms of cost, it is a very cost-effective helicopter."

Turkey selected the A129 in 2007, and the contract for 51 units and 40 under option came into effect last year, the spokesman said. The deal was worth about 60 million euros ($77.5 million)

AgustaWestland pitched its AW119 at the end of last year for India's tender for 197 aircraft under the reconnaissance and surveillance helicopter (RSH) program.

"We submitted the proposal and we're waiting for the next stage," the spokesman said.

In a tender for 16 naval helicopters and eight under option, the company is marketing the NH90, in which AgustaWestland is a partner with Eurocopter and Stork in the NH Industries consortium.

The Anglo-Italian company is in talks with state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) as a partner for the various helicopter bids, to meet the offset condition. The two companies have worked together on maintenance of the Indian Navy's Sea King helicopter fleet.

Eurocopter, an EADS subsidiary, has submitted the Fennec AS 550 C3 for the RSH program and the Tiger HAD version, flown by the French and Spanish armies, for the attack helicopter.

The main mission for the Indian RSH aircraft is take off and landing at 6,000 meters above sea level, said Rainer Farid, sales vice president for South Asia. In the recent clash between India and Pakistan on the Siachen Glacier, Indian helicopters operated from the snow-capped heights in support of troops.

The RSH requirement is a joint Army and Air Force one, and the Fennec would be delivered armed with 2.75-inch rocket pods and a 20-mm FN Herstal machine gun, Farid said.

Eurocopter responded in September to the attack helicopter tender.

Trials for hot temperature and high altitude on the RSH and attack procurements were expected to be held this year, he said.

Eurocopter has also been in talks with HAL for about a year on codeveloping and producing a multi-role aircraft in the 10-12-metric-ton class, but it was still early in the design stages.

Rosoboronexport, acting on behalf of Mil design bureau and the Rostvertol holding company, responded to the attack helicopter tender with the Mi-28 NE (night export), Rostvertol spokeswoman Tina Shaposhnikova said.

The tender terms require contenders effectively to present a prototype aircraft in the configuration specified by the Indian Army. That requires modifications to the basic Mi-28, notably fitting French and Belgian avionics equipment, she said. The three Russian entities are discussing how to meet that demand, which demands a financial effort.

The Indian Army operates 32 Mi-24/35 Hind attack helicopters, which underwent an avionics modernization a few years ago through Israel Aerospace Industries of Israel. A Hind aircraft was on static display on the flightline at the show.

India's requirement for direct commercial purchase left Bell and Boeing stumped as their products were available on a government-to-government basis, because of the weapons content, through the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program. Getting FMS clearance meant missing the tight tender deadline, so the two U.S. manufacturers decided not to bid.

Bell Helicopter's vice president for South Asia, Max Wiles, said the company would have bid the AH-1Z for the attack helicopter mission and its 407 for the RSH if it had entered the competition. The offset requirement was an onerous one and "would not have met the overall business strategy," he said.

Boeing's spokesman for Integrated Defense Systems in India, Brian Nelson, said the tender time was too tight and there was uncertainty whether a sale of the Apache fell within FMS rules.

Bell and Boeing executives separately said their companies would like to bid if the tenders were relaunched in the future.

Indian Arms Buy Push Leaves $1B Unspent

By vivek raghuvanshi
Published: 10 Feb 11:10 EST (16:10 GMT)

NEW DELHI - Despite efforts to speed up arms programs and finalize large purchases, the Indian Defence Ministry will return $1 billion that it was unable to use as planned in the fiscal year that ends March 31. Ministry officials, fearing criticism from the military and political leaders, tried to speed procurement ahead of this year's general elections. In 2008, bids worth about $9 billion were floated, some of which resulted from cancellation of earlier bids. Most had been pending for two to three years due to delays.

"The process of acquisition had slowed down over the last three to four years," said S.V. Thapaliyal, a retired Indian Army major general. "Now there is a political compulsion to show results in view of forthcoming elections. Although a number of requests for proposals [RfPs] have been issued, the acquisition process is so slow and complicated that most of the acquisitions will only materialize in two to three years' time."

"Procurement of the required weapon systems is only a small part of the defense planning process - the whole process is flawed in execution," said Gurmeet Kanwal, retired Indian Army brigadier and director of the Centre for Land Warfare Studies, here. "Bureaucratic red tape must be eliminated through empowered committees, rather than according to a case-by-case approval on files that bounce back and forth endlessly. Prolonged trials are another chokepoint; a system of accountability should be instituted to ensure that trials are completed on time."

Other defense analysts said that the pile-up of RfPs began long ago.

"The cumulative pile is not just over the past three to four years, but goes back at least two decades," said independent defense analyst Rahul Bhonsle, a retired Indian Army brigadier. "The ideal acquisition schedule projects requirements at least 15 to 20 years in advance. That is the aim of having long-term integrated plans. But for the past few years, not having bought any weapons worth the name, the government is now rushing, driven by a post-Mumbai paranoia."

Swaran Singh, professor for diplomacy and disarmament at Jawaharlal Nehru University here, said the sudden big numbers of RfPs are due to a recent sharp surge of economic activity.

"Since the late 1990s, the Indian economy has had impressive growth rates, enabling the UPA government to prioritize weapon purchases, which appears like a sudden burst of RfPs floated in recent years," he said.

India plans to buy more than $30 billion in arms over the next five years to fight the low-intensity war in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, head off terror attacks in cities, and prepare for potential battle with Pakistan or China.

Program Status

In the near term, there is some hope for fast-track purchases of smaller items, including fast interceptor craft, hovercrafts and patrol boats for the Coast Guard. The government also will finalize major deals in the next two to three months, a senior Defence Ministry official said.

India expects within two to three months to sign its largest deal ever with Israel, a $3 billion-plus joint effort to develop a medium-range, surface-to-air missile, sources said.

The big-ticket bids floated in 2008 include $2 billion for 100 tracked howitzers, 48 ultra-light howitzers and 185 wheeled howitzers. The Army also sought to procure armored fighting vehicle protection and countermeasure systems worth $270 million, and floated a tender for the joint development of a laser-based directed infrared countermeasure system. The Army's quest for quick-reaction, surface-to-air missiles for $1.4 billion received a poor response; overseas vendors asked for requirements changes.

Other major tenders included a $2 billion bid from the Navy and Coast Guard for maritime patrol aircraft, a $750 million global bid to buy 197 reconnaissance and surveillance helicopters, and a $2 billion effort to upgrade Mirage fighters.

A $1 billion deal to replace the Russian-made Shilka air defense system has drawn no bidders, though Russia has offered licensed production of the Shilka system as a separate arrangement. India also may cancel a bid to procure 266 general guidance munitions in the 1,000-kilogram class compatible with Mirage-2000H/TH aircraft, because the Defence Research and Development Organization claims it can manufacture the munitions itself, Defence Ministry sources said.

The Defence Ministry canceled a bid to purchase a successor to the Swedish-made L-70 air defense guns because only the state-owned Ordnance Factories Board, in partnership with Rheinmetall Defense of Germany, had submitted the bid. The $1.2 billion contract to buy transportable radars is also heading for cancellation as Rafael was the only bidder.

Indian Army to Induct BrahMos Missile After Trials; BrahMos Phase II Expansion Details

Dated 9/2/2009

Press Trust of India reports the Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor saying that the Army would wait for successful user trials of the BrahMos cruise missiles before induction. Next round of tests are scheduled for February 20th 2009.

BrahMos Aerospace's facility in Thiruvananthapuram is embarking on its second phase of expansion tomorrow aiming to convert the unit into a fully capable Missile Integration Complex. Defence Minister A K Antony will inaugurate the second phase of development tomorrow, less then a year after the Centre took over the state-run company to convert it into a major centre for production of defence and space-related component manufacturing centre, BrahMos Aerospace CEO and MD Dr A Sivathanu Pillai told reporters.

Investments worth Rs 1.25 billion have been made into the BrahMos Campus. Rs 750 million was invested by the BrahMos organisation while the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) were to contribute Rs 250 million each. BrahMos looks to acquire nearly 60 acres of land in the near future

Air chief defends IAF pilots, trashes DGCA report

NDTV Correspondent

Wednesday, February 11, 2009 (Bangalore)

The Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major has rejected reports that pilots of the Indian Air Force were responsible for the near miss incident at Mumbai airport.

An Air India jet with 150 onboard nearly collided with VVIP helicopters being used to transport the President and her family on Monday.

Earlier, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), the civil aviation watchdog in the country, had blamed the pilot of the presidential choppers for not following rules and coming too close to the passenger plane on the runway.

Now, the Air chief has rejected that report and said that the Air Force's pilots were not at fault and the civil aviation ministry should set its house in order.

No action has been taken against any one yet. ATC officials were taken off duty, and the Air Force said the chopper pilots in question would not fly so that they could focus on the inquiry.

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