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Thursday, 12 March 2009

From Today's Papers - 12 Mar 09

Most newspapers have not been published today since yesterday was Holi.

DNA India

DNA India

The Dawn (Pakistan)

The Dawn (Pakistan)

Protesting Veterans finally get audience with Prez

A delegation of military veterans, led by former Deputy Chief Lt Gen Raj Kadyan, was finally given audience by President Pratibha Patil today. The Indian Ex-Servicemen Movement (IESM), which Gen Kadyan heads, is the same one that has been on an indefinite protest for months at Jantar Mantar over the government's refusal to implement One-Rank One-Pension.

According to a statement released by the IESM following its meeting, the President was now informed of the veterans' demand on any previous occasion, and the letters addressed to her by the veterans about their intention to return their gallantry medals were also not made available to her. The IESM statement noted: "Obviously, the bureaucrats at Rashtrapati Bhavan had not apprised the President regarding our requests. This is how the bureaucracy has treated the sentiments of soldiers who wanted to handover their most valued possession to the Supreme Commander." The President apparently heard out the veterans. Though there's little hope she's going to do anything about it.


By Scott Stewart and Kamran Bokhari

On March 5, the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad reportedly received threatening e-mails warning of attacks on Saudi interests in Pakistan. According to English-language Pakistani newspaper The Nation, the e-mails purportedly were sent by al Qaeda and threatened attacks on targets such as the Saudi Embassy and Saudi airline facilities in Pakistan.

When we heard the reports of this threat, our initial reaction was to dismiss it. While al Qaeda has sometimes made vague threats before executing an attack, it does not provide a list of precise targets in advance. Prior to the June 2008 bombing of the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, al Qaeda leaders repeatedly threatened to attack European (and Danish) targets in retaliation for a series of cartoons published in Denmark in 2005 that satirized the Prophet Mohammed. When the issue was reignited in early 2008 with the release of a film critical of Islam called "Fitna," by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders, Osama bin Laden himself issued a statement in March 2008 in which he threatened strikes against European targets in retaliation. However, in all of these threats, al Qaeda never specified that it was going to strike the Danish Embassy in Islamabad. In addition to being out of character for al Qaeda, it is foolish to issue such a specific threat if one really wants to strike a


While we were able to discount the most recent e-mail threat reportedly sent to the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad, it generated a robust discussion among our analytical staff about Saudi counterterrorism and anti-jihadist activities in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the large number of threatening statements senior al Qaeda members have made against the Saudis and the very real possibility of an attack against Saudi interests in Pakistan.

Threats Against the Saudis

Beginning with some of bin Laden’s early public writings, such as his August 1996 "Declaration of War against the Americans Occupying the Land of the Two Holy Places," al Qaeda leaders have spoken harshly against the Saudi royal family. Bin Laden and others have accused the Saudis of collaboration with the "Zionist-Crusaders alliance" that bin Laden claimed was using military force to impose "iniquity and injustice" on the people of Islam.

However, the verbal threats directed against the Saudi royal family have escalated in recent years in the wake of a string of attacks launched inside Saudi Arabia by the Saudi al Qaeda franchise in 2003 and 2004, and as the Saudi government has conducted an aggressive campaign to crush the Saudi franchise and combat the wider phenomenon of jihadism.

In fact, it is rare to see any statement from a senior al Qaeda leader that does not condemn the Saudi government specifically or in more general terms. In a July 28, 2008, video message, al Qaeda ideologue Abu Yahya al-Libi called on Muslims to act quickly and decisively to kill the Saudi king, reminding them that "killing this reckless tyrant, who has declared himself the chief imam of atheism, will be one of the greatest qurubat" (an act of devotion bringing man closer to God). In a May 2008 message, al-Libi also had urged Saudi clerics to lead uprisings against the Saudi monarchy similar to the July 2007 uprisings at the Red Mosque in Islamabad. Al-Libi never mentioned Saudi King Abdullah by name in that message, preferring to call him the "lunatic apostate" because of the king’s call for a dialogue among Islam, Christianity and Judaism. Commenting on this interfaith dialogue in the July 2008 message, al-Libi also said, "By God, if you don’t resist heroically against

this wanton tyrant ... the day will come when church bells will ring in the heart of the Arabian Peninsula."

In March 2008, al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri said the Saudi monarchy was part of a "satanic alliance" formed by the United States and Israel to blockade the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip. In a January 2009 message, al-Zawahiri said: "Oh lions of Islam everywhere, the leaders of Muslim countries are the guards of the American-Zionist interests. They are the ones who have given up Palestine and recognized Israel ... Abdallah Bin Abd-al-Aziz has invented the interfaith dialogue and met Peres in New York, paving the way for the complete recognition of Israel." Al-Zawahiri continued, "Thwart the efforts of those traitors by striking the interests of the enemies of Islam." In a February 2009 audio statement, al-Zawahiri declared, "The Muslim nation must, with all its energy and skills, move to remove these corrupt, corrupting and traitorous rulers."

After a January 2009 video by jihadists in Yemen announcing the formation of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, al-Zawahiri proclaimed in a February statement that the new organization "is the awakening, which aims to liberate the Arabian Peninsula from the Crusader invaders and their treacherous agents. It is escalating and flourishing, with God's help and guidance, despite all the campaigns of repression, misleading, and deception, and despite all the obstacles, difficulties and hindrances."

Focus on the Saudis

All these threats raise an obvious question: Why is al Qaeda so fixated on the Saudis? One obvious reason is that, since the launching of a disastrous offensive by the Saudi al Qaeda node, the Saudi government -- which previously had turned a blind eye to many of al Qaeda’s activities -- has launched a full-court press against the organization. Al-Zawahiri acknowledged this in a December 2005 message entitled "Impediments to Jihad," in which he said the Saudi franchise in the kingdom had been defeated by collaborators. The Saudi offensive against al Qaeda also played a significant part in the Anbar Awakening in Iraq. Saudi cajoling (and money) helped persuade Iraqi tribal leaders to cooperate with the coalition forces.

One way the Saudis have really hurt al Qaeda is by damaging its ability to raise funds. For example, in March 2008, the top Saudi cleric, Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul-Aziz bin Abdullah al-Sheikh, cautioned Saudis against giving money to charities or organizations that finance "evil groups" who are known for harming Islam and its followers -- a clear reference to al Qaeda and other jihadist organizations. We have repeatedly seen appeals for more funds for the jihad, and in a Jan. 14, 2009, message by bin Laden, he noted that the jihadists were under financial "distress" and that it was the duty of the Muslim ummah to support the jihadists "with all their soul and money."

Perhaps one of the greatest threats the Saudis pose to al Qaeda is the threat to its ideological base. As STRATFOR has long argued, there are two different battlespaces in the war against jihadism -- the physical and the ideological. For an ideological organization such as al Qaeda that preaches persecution and martyrdom, losses on the physical battlefield are expected and glorified. The biggest threat to the jihadists, therefore, is not a Hellfire missile being dropped on their heads, but an ideological broadside that undercuts their legitimacy and ideological appeal.

Many Saudi clerics have condemned jihadism as a "deviance from Islam." Even prominent Saudi clerics who have criticized the Saudi government, such as Salman al-Awdah, have sent open letters to bin Laden condemning violence against innocents and claiming that al Qaeda was hurting Muslim charities through its purported ties to them.

The sting of the ideological attacks is being felt. In a May 2008 speech, al-Libi addressed the ideological assault when he said, "and because they knew that the key to their success in this plan of theirs is to turn the people away from jihad and mujahidin and to eliminate them militarily and intellectually." Al-Libi recognized that without new recruits and funding, the jihad will wither on the vine.

In addition to financial and ideological threats against the organization, the Saudi assault has also gone after al Qaeda where it lives -- in Pakistan.

Deep Connections

Saudi Arabia has long had a strong relationship with Pakistan, based on shared perspectives toward regional and international matters. A key common sphere of influence for the two sides over the past four decades has been Afghanistan. This close Saudi-Pakistani relationship was well-illustrated by the pairing up of Saudi petrodollar wealth with Pakistani logistics (along with U.S. weapons and intelligence) to support the Islamist uprising that followed the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

After the Soviet military withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Saudis and the Pakistanis continued to cooperate. Even though the world at large refused to accept the Taliban regime after it took power in 1996, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates recognized the Taliban as the legitimate rulers of Afghanistan. (These three were the only countries to do so.) However, while enjoying support from Riyadh and Islamabad, the Taliban also established relations with the transnational jihadist forces led by al Qaeda.

The Saudi and Pakistani relationship with the Taliban was shattered by the events of 9/11. In spite of aggressive negotiations with the Taliban, neither the Saudis nor the Pakistanis could convince Mullah Omar to surrender bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership to the Americans. Because of this, the two countries were forced to end their overt relationship with the Taliban as the Americans invaded Afghanistan, though they obviously have maintained some contact with members of the Taliban leadership.

The U.S. response to 9/11 placed the Saudis and the Pakistanis into a very difficult position, where they were forced to fight jihadists on one hand and try to maintain control and influence over them on the other. As previously discussed, the Saudis possessed the resources to effectively clamp down on the al Qaeda franchise in the kingdom, but Pakistan, which is weaker both financially and politically -- and which has become the center of the jihadist universe on the physical battlefield -- has been hit much harder by the U.S.-jihadist war.

This situation, along with the ground reality in Afghanistan, has forced the United States to begin working on a political strategy to bring closure to the U.S.-jihadist war that involves negotiating with the Taliban if they part ways with al Qaeda and the transnational jihadists.

Hence the recent visit by Taliban officials to Saudi Arabia and the trips made by Riyadh's intelligence chief, Prince Muqrin bin Abdel-Aziz, to Pakistan and Afghanistan. The Saudi monarch, King Abdullah, is also rumored to be personally involved behind the scenes in efforts to pressure Taliban leaders to break free from al Qaeda. But as in the past, the Saudis need help from their allies in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, and here is where they are running into problems. A weak and threatened Pakistani state means that before working with the Pakistanis on the Afghan Taliban, Riyadh has to help Pakistan combat its own Taliban problem, which the Saudis currently are attempting. The Saudis obviously have much to offer the Pakistanis, in terms of both cash and experience. They also have the religious cachet that other Pakistan allies, such as the Americans and the British, lack, giving them the ability to broach ideological subjects. However, as is the case with the Afghan Taliban, th e Saudis will have to get the Pakistani Taliban to part ways with al Qaeda and are working hard to drive a wedge between Pakistani militants and their foreign guests.

These efforts to divide the Taliban from the global jihadists are happening not only during the plush, Saudi-sponsored trips for Taliban members to conduct Hajj and Umrah in the kingdom. Following a strategy similar to what they did in Iraq, the Saudis and their agents are meeting with Taliban commanders on the ground in Pakistan and Afghanistan to twist arms and offer cash. They also are coordinating very closely with the Pakistani and Afghan authorities who are leading the campaign against the jihadists. For example, Rehman Malik, the Pakistani adviser to the prime minister on the interior (Pakistan’s de facto terrorism czar), traveled to Saudi Arabia in January at the invitation of Saudi Interior Minister Prince Naif bin Abdul-Aziz to discuss improving counterterrorism cooperation between the two countries. Many of the 85 most-wanted militants on the list recently released by the Saudi government are believed to be in Pakistan, and the Saudis are working with Malik and t he Pakistanis to arrest those militants and return them to Saudi Arabia.

A Clear and Present Danger

Bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, et al., are well aware of these Saudi moves, which they see as a threat to their very existence. When asked in a November 2008 interview what he thought of the Saudi efforts to mediate between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and the Taliban, al-Zawahiri responded that the Saudi efforts pointed out "the historical role of saboteur played by the House of Saud in ruining the causes of the Muslim ummah, and how they represent the agents whom the Crusader West uses to disperse the ummah's energy."

The al Qaeda leadership has nowhere to go if circumstances become untenable for them in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Caught between U.S., Pakistani and Saudi forces, the last thing al Qaeda wants is to lose local support from the Taliban. In other words, Pakistan is their final battleground, and any threat to their continued haven in Pakistan poses a clear and present danger to the organization -- especially if the Saudis can play a pivotal role in persuading the Taliban in Afghanistan also to turn against them.

Leveraging its successes against the al Qaeda franchises in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, Riyadh also is working closely with governments to combat the jihadists in places like Yemen as well as Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is, in effect, a global Saudi campaign against jihadism, and we believe al Qaeda has no choice but to attempt to derail the Saudi effort in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There is not much al Qaeda can do to counter Saudi financial tools, but the militant group is in a position to hit back hard on the ideological front in order to counter any Saudi attempt to moderate and rehabilitate jihadists. As noted above, we have seen al Qaeda launch a sustained stream of ideological attacks in an attempt to undercut the Islamic credentials of the Saudi monarch and the Saudi clerical establishment.

Another avenue that al Qaeda can take to interfere with the Saudi charm offensive is to strike Saudi targets -- not only to punish the Saudis, but also to try to drive a wedge between the Saudis and the Pakistanis. Al Qaeda’s military capabilities have been greatly degraded since 2001, and with the remnant of its Saudi franchise fleeing to Yemen, it likely has very little ability to make a meaningful strike inside the kingdom. However, the one place where the al Qaeda core has shown the ability to strike in recent years is Pakistan. Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the group’s operational commander in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the bombing of the Danish Embassy in Islamabad and for the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, and we have no reason to doubt his claims.

Also, an attack against a diplomatic mission in Pakistan that represents a regime considered an enemy of the jihadists is not unprecedented. In addition to the Danish Embassy bombing and several attacks against U.S. diplomatic facilities and personnel in Pakistan, al Qaeda also bombed the Egyptian Embassy in Islamabad in November 1995. According to al-Zawahiri, the Egyptian Embassy was targeted because it "was not only running a campaign for chasing Arabs in Pakistan but also spying on the Arab Mujahedeen."

Based on the totality of these circumstances -- Saudi activities against al Qaeda in South Asia and elsewhere, the al Qaeda perception of the Saudis as a threat and al Qaeda's operational ability in Pakistan -- we believe there is a very real threat that Saudi interests in Pakistan might be attacked in the near future.

This report may be forwarded or republished on your website with attribution to

Copyright 2009 Stratfor.

Pakistan Braces for Turmoil as Zardari's Hold Loosens
By Nadeem Sarwar

Pakistan Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Wednesday met Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani against the backdrop of a confrontation looming over restoring Supreme Court judges sacked two years ago, with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif bent on leading a countrywide "Long March" of lawyers to force the issue.

"Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani Wednesday called on Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani here at the PM House and discussed matters of national importance," the official APP news agency reported, without elaborating.

The meeting came at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari is in Tehran to attend the summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.

Also on Wednesday, Sharif attempted to drive a wedge between Zardari and Gilani, saying: "We have a parliamentary democracy in Pakistan, like you have in India. In a parliamentary democracy, the prime minister is supreme."

The statement, to an Indian TV news channel, came when he was asked to comment on reports that moves were underway to replace Zardari with Gilani to cool political tempers in Pakistan.

Relations between Zardari and Gilani are known to be tense, with the prime minister repeatedly fending off the president's attempts to muscle onto his turf.

There have even been reports that Zardari could transfer the powers of the presidency to the prime minister's office and then occupy that post.

Earlier Wednesday, Sharif urged the people to take to streets to change their destiny and asked them to take part in the 'Long March' beginning Thursday if they wanted to change their fortunes.

"Today is a defining moment in Pakistan's history. We can change the destiny of this country. Pakistan stands at a crossroads today and it is your duty to save it," Sharif declared at a crowded public rally in Abbotabad in Punjab province.

"We want to change this outdated system because it poses a danger to our existence and they want to charge me for sedition," Sharif added.

The reference was to Interior Minister Rehman Malik's threat to slap sedition charges against Sharif if he went ahead with the march Thursday.

The 'Long March' is to simultaneously begin Thursday from Balochistan and Sindh and after passing through the Punjab province culminate in a sit-in outside the parliament complex here.

The Punjab government Tuesday evening began a crackdown on PML-N activists, arresting hundreds of them across the province in a bid to halt the party's proposed 'Long March'.

The ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and the PML-N had emerged as the two largest parties after the February 2008 elections and agreed to form a coalition government.

However, they soon fell out after PPP co-chair Asif Ali Zardari, now the president, reneged on a pledge to reinstate the judges, including then Supreme Court chief justice Ifthikar Mohammad Chaudhury. All of them were sacked after then president Pervez Musharraf imposed emergency in 2007.

Zardari apparently apprehended that Chaudhury could reopen the graft cases that Musharraf had ordered withdrawn.

This led to the PML-N pulling out of the federal coalition and its ministers resigning from the government of Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani.

26/11 proof of LeT's growing menace: US

Press Trust of India

Wednesday, March 11, 2009, (Washington)

The Mumbai carnage shows the growing striking capabilities of the outlawed Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and its ability to direct and execute terror attacks inside India, a senior US intelligence official said on Wednesday.

"In South Asia, the November 2008 attack in Mumbai highlighted the increasing ability of terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) to direct and execute terrorist attacks inside India," Lt General Michael Maples, Director, Defence Intelligence Agency of the US Army said in his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Besides raising Indo-Pak tensions, the targeting of foreign nationals and Jewish interests, as well as the coordination and complexity of the operation, marked a departure from previous attacks and raised concerns in the region, Maples said.

The statement comes a day after the State Department said Pakistan needs to do more in bringing the perpetrators of the Mumbai terrorist attack to justice.

In his remarks during the hearing Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, said LeT is essentially a creature of ISI to conduct operations in Kashmir.

Pak Army chief meets PM; Zardari in Tehran

PTI | March 11, 2009 | 16:52 IST

Amidst a political showdown between the government and the opposition, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani on Wednesday met Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and discussed the political and security situation in the country.

The meeting comes against the backdrop of a major crackdown on lawyers and opposition party activists ahead of a nationwide protest.

Kayani called on Gilani at the Prime Minister's House and discussed matters of national importance, state-run APP news agency reported without giving details.

Official sources told private television news channels that the two leaders had discussed the internal security situation and political issues.

The two leaders met at a time when President Asif Ali Zardari is out of the country to attend a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organisation in Tehran.

Pakistani authorities had on Tuesday launched a crackdown on rights activists, lawyers and opposition party activists in Islamabad and Punjab province ahead of a "long march" by the lawyers' movement to pressure the government to reinstate judges sacked during the 2007 emergency by former President Pervez Musharraf.

Hundreds of people have been detained or placed under house arrest by the authorities, who have banned protests and rallies across Punjab and Sindh provinces.

China actively conducts external military exchanges

Chinese naval task forces, comprising two destroyers and a supply ship, have carried out 27 escort missions for more than 80 ships in the pirate-ridden waters in the Gulf of Eden and off the Somali coast as up to March 9, and it has completed, among other tasks, the mission of rescuing and escorting a Chinese fishing vessel, the Tianyu No.8, owned by China's Tianjin Ocean Fishing Company.

China had sent a total of 12,721 peacekeeping officers and men by the end of February. At present, it has 1,949 military peacekeeping personnel serving in nine UN mission areas and the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations. The nation has consistently supported the UN peacekeeping efforts and become one of the UN Security Council members that have dispatched most peacekeepers.

On Feb. 27, working talks between the Chinese Ministry of National Defense and the U.S. Department of Defense on defense policy coordination were co-chaired by Qian Lihua, director of the Chinese Defense Ministry's Foreign Affairs Office, and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for East Asia David Sedney. They discussed the military relations between the two armies and issues of mutual concern. To date, China has set up defense and security consultation mechanisms with 22 countries including the U.S., Russian and Japan, and its Ministry of National Defense opens direct phone lines with the Russian Defense Ministry and the U.S. Defense Department.

In recent years, China's defense diplomacy has ushered in a new era of all-round, multi-channel and multi-layer development, as a reflection of the outstanding achievements made in the country's overall diplomacy.

The external military relationship has been extended in an all-round way. China has established military ties with more than 150 countries and military attach offices in 109 countries, and some 100 countries have set up military attach offices in China. The country has sent about 150 military delegations overseas annually in recent years, and more than 200 military delegations of other countries visit China each year.

Moreover, China keeps deepening its pragmatic military cooperation with other countries. China has stepped up its pragmatic military cooperation with Russia. Chinese students have been sent to study at more than 120 foreign military academies, and foreign students from approximately 100 countries came to study in Chinese military academies. Since 2002, the Chinese army has held 26 joint drills of varying scales and four joint military exercises on land with 21 countries.

China's participation in international peacekeeping and rescue missions has been well commended. The country has sent more than 9,000 personnel to participate in 18 UN peacekeeping operations worldwide. In addition, Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) personnel have participated in joint international rescue operations in 16 major natural calamities, including the Indian tsunami, Hurricane Katrina in southern U.S. and the South Asia earthquake. During the devastating Wenchuan quake occurred in Sichuan province in May 2008, Chinese army also received aid from national defense departments and armies from 17 countries.

Chinese army has become increasingly more open and confident with its image in the world. In recent years, China has set up a military news spokesman system to initially make known its policy stances and to timely respond to the world opinions of concern, and publishing a white paper on national defense has been a regular practice in a bid to enunciate its defense policy and defense strategy. This has won the increased understanding and confidence of the international community.

In its daily-increasingly active military activities, China has always kept to an independent foreign policy of peace, implemented a national defense policy of the defensive nature, and actively conducted the external military exchanges and cooperation. Chinese armed forces will raise their capabilities of coping with various security threats and challenges through their wide-ranging exchanges and cooperation by means of forging the relationship as non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-direction to a third country.

By People's Daily Online and its authors are senior PD reporters Wen Xian and Liu Gang

Why BrahMos matters

Wednesday, 11 March , 2009, 00:33

Ajey Lele is a research fellow at the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA), New Delhi. The author of two books – ‘Bio-Weapons: The Genie in the Bottle’ and ‘Weather and Warfare’ -- also contributes regularly to various websites, newspapers and national and international journals.

India successfully test fired the land attack version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile on March 4.

An earlier test trial on January 20 had failed, embarrassing the Indo-Russian BrahMos (named after Brahmaputra and Moskva rivers) team. In fact, it would be premature to declare even this test as a total success, because mapping the missile’s performance will take a while.

The missile, test fired at a firing range in Pokhran in the Rajasthan Desert in a vertical-launch configuration, successfully hit its designated target within two and half minutes. The 290 km range missile can effectively engage ground targets from an altitude as low as 10 meters. It carries a 300 kg conventional warhead and moves at almost three times the speed of sound (2.8 Mach).

Why BrahMos matters

In the earlier test, it had failed to engage the target due to what was later described as a ‘software glitch’. This time, that glitch seems to have been resolved.

This Block-II BrahMos missile is the latest land attack version of the missile developed for the Indian Army. These missiles fly at very low altitudes and have the ability to evade enemy radars and air-defence systems.

This is different from much talked about ‘missile defence system’ which the US is using to demonstrate its strength globally, much to the annoyance of Russia and other nations. Missile defence systems are capable of providing partial protection against ballistic missiles. But cruise missiles are comparatively uncomplicated and inexpensive precision strike weapons.

The March 4 test was a more advanced version of the world's fastest surface-to-surface cruise missile. Such missiles can be used to target and hit specific buildings in a large cluster of buildings.

Counter-terror: The state gets some teeth

The Indian Army inducted the first battery this land-fired version of the BrahMos in June 2007. The anti-ship naval version of this missile has been integrated on the destroyer INS Rajput, and will also be mounted on the three 7,000 tonne Kolkata class destroyers.

Why BrahMos matters

This Indo-Russian BrahMos Aerospace Private Limited was set up in February 1998 to produce cruise missiles. India wanted a mid-range cruise missile, but Russia, being a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), could not share the technology. As per MTCR guidelines, the payload/ range ratio cannot exceed 500kg/300km level.

The BrahMos missile is considered a unique system, because it is much faster than subsonic cruise missiles like the US-made Harpoons and Tomahawks. China has its anti-ship cruise missiles such as HY-4 (C-401) and YJ-82 (C-802) which touch Mach 2, and a few of them are operational with the Pakistan Navy.

But China also has a different category of cruise missiles called DH-10, which is a land attack cruise missile with an estimated range of 2000 km. Pakistan too has its Babur missiles which can carry nuclear warheads up to a distance of 700 km, but the speeds are less than Mach 1.

BrahMos missiles are essentially being developed as anti-ship missiles, but they can also be configured for land-based targets. The Russian Navy is also expected to integrate these missiles into their system after carrying out necessary modifications in their ships.

It is expected that the Indian Air Force would have airborne anti-ship and land attack variants of this missile operational by 2012 with trials being conducted during 2011. There are also plans of developing submarine-launched versions. India has already developed a submarine-launched supersonic missile, a modification of the BrahMos cruise missile, something previously limited to countries like the United States, France and Russia.

Obama’s next test: Space

Apart from the strategic aspects, this Indo-Russian joint venture has a major commercial angle. The company proposes to grow into a Rs 1000-crore venture within the next five years. A year ago, it integrated a new company into their setup called BATL (BrahMos Aerospace Thiruvananthapuram Limited). This unit already has major customers within the state like the DRDO (Defence Research Development Organization), DAE (Department of Atomic Energy) and ISRO (Indian Space Research Organisation). It also expects to garner business from other countries. BATL is entering into the business of robotics, and was instrumental in some work related to India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission. It is expected as ISRO’s space activities increase, BATL will also get more business.

The BrahMos missile could become one of India’s major contributions to the world arms export market between 2010-2020. The system is superior to other available platforms on three counts: The speed, touching almost 3 Mach, its modular design which allows modifications for launch from virtually any platform, and the affordable price. Now BrahMos intends to take a next higher step and would be developing hypersonic cruise missiles capable of Mach 5 to Mach 7.

While there were reports that more than 10 states have already evinced interest in purchasing this missile, further details were unavailable.

Unfortunately, the BrahMos success story is not replicated in other Indo-Russian defence deals and joint projects. Some movement was seen towards the end of 2008, just ahead of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s visit. Discussions were held on the joint development of Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft, multi-role transport aircraft, T-90 tanks, and airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). India has cleared the purchase of 80 medium-lift helicopters for the Indian Air Force from Russia.

Also, hectic deliberations continued over the controversial purchase of the aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. During the first week of December 2008 the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) agreed to re-negotiate the price of the Gorshkov. Russia, citing cost overruns, is asking for an additional $2 billion over the contracted price of $1.5 billion. India has already paid an initial $500 million to facilitate work on the carrier’s overhaul. The wrangling over the cost is likely to lead to significant delays in the acquisition of the refurbished carrier.

Lessons from the satellite crash

There is a need for the both the states to bring in the professionalism shown by BrahMos in addressing various issues related with joint production and military supplies. The recent test proves that the company is a quick learner and is not afraid of failures.

Today, India is in a very precarious situation where issues like terrorism necessitate investing in low end products like automatic guns and bulletproof vests. At the same time, it has to remain prepared for modern day conventional conflicts. As the Taliban gains ground in Pakistan, the chances of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands increase.

Given that, the BrahMos has more than symbolic relevance.

IDAS For Indian T-90 MBTs Selected

Sweden’s flagship company Saab Group, which also owns Gripen International and late last January opened its representative office in New Delhi, recently won two significant contract awards from the Ministry of Defence, one worth US$24 million for supplying the CIDAS integrated all-digital defensive aids suite for the 16 armed Dhruv ALH helicopters now being built by HAL for the Indian Air Force (IAF), and the other for supplying the LEDS-150 active protection system (APS) for the Indian Army’s T-90S+ and T-90M main battle tanks (MBT).

Presently, the DRDO’s Bangalore-based Defence Avionics Research Establishment (DARE) and SaabTech are co-developing the MILDS AN/AAR-60 missile approach warning system (MAWS), which forms only one component of the CIDAS defensive aids suite. The MAWS is of South African origin and was further co-developed by EADS ewation (Germany) and Grintek Ewation (South Africa) after decided to merge by 2001. This was followed by SaabTech taking a stake in Avitronics (part of Grintek). SaabTech now owns both the South African companies (Grintek and Avitronics) as well as the EADS-Grintek joint venture. Therefore, in conclusion, the prime contractor for supplying the CIDAS defensive aids suite is SaabTech. The CIDAS will also find its way on board the HAL-developed Light Combat Helicopter, whose first prototype will be rolled out this March. In addition, the CIDAS will also most likely be on board the to-be-upgraded Ka-28PL, Ka-31 and Sea King Mk42B helicopters of the Indian Navy, and also on the 60 armed Dhruv ALHs that the Indian Army will be procuring for its projected Combat Aviation Brigade, which will also be employed for vertical envelopment operations in support of expeditionary amphibious warfare campaigns. A version of CIDAS also exists for combat aircraft and will in all probability be selected for installation on board the Su-30MKI in the near future, since the Su-30MKIs lack on-board missile approach warning systems and laser warning systems. Another aircraft to be equipped with CIDAS will be the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) now being co-developed by HAL and Russia’s United Aircraft Corp.

The contract for supplying the LEDS-150 APS suite for installation on board 987 T-90 MBTs has been won against stiff competition, and follows the Army HQ’s issuance of RFPs on April 24 last year. A total of six companies (Israel Military Industries, RAFAEL, BAE Systems, Raytheon, Rosoboronexport, Saab, and Germany’s IBD Deisenroth Engineering) were invited for submitting bids for supplying 1,657 APS suites worth $270 million. APS suites offered were Russia’s Kolomna-based KBM Engineering Design Bureau’s Arena-E, Israel Military Industries’ Iron Fist, RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems’ Trophy, Raytheon’s Quick Kill, Saab’s LEDS-150 and Deisenroth Engineering’s AMAP-ADS. Eventually, the LEDS-150 was selected and its procurement contract was inked last month.

The Land Electronic Defence System (LEDS) combines active signature management, soft-kill and hard-kill mechanisms to provide full spectrum active protection to armoured vehicles. Full hemispherical coverage is provided to detect incoming threats and alert the crew. When installed in full configuration, the LEDS-150 offers MBT-comparable protection to light and medium combat vehicles against engagement by weapons like RPG-7s, anti-tank guided-missiles, KE ammunition, mortars and field artillery shells. The LEDS-150 typically comprises laser warning sensors, ADC-150 active defence controller AD, a number of munition confirmation and tracking sensors, and high-speed directed launchers, which allow the combination of soft- and hard-kill countermeasure deployment capability to the platform, optional displays, and interconnecting harnesses.

The hard kill feature of the LEDS-150 is characterised by its capability to physically destroy the efficiency of the terminal ballistic capability of attacking munitions without residual penetration of the protected vehicle. The hard kill system detects and tracks a single or simultaneous threats and calculates if the attacking munition will hit the platform or not. The system determines the best inertial intercept position and provides the slew and firing commands to the launchers. The Mongoose-1 countermeasure missile is launched at a predetermined time to intercept and neutralise the detected munition off-board at a distance of between 5 metres and 15 metres from the vehicle to minimise the collateral damage to own forces.--Prasun K. Sengupta

TRISHUL: IDAS For Indian T-90 MBTs Selected

Mexican Armed Forces to Receive Six Eurocopter EC725 helicopters

Dated 10/3/2009

Eurocopter has chalked up another success in Latin America: The Mexican Ministry of Defense has placed an order for six EC725 helicopters.

The medium-lift helicopters will mainly be used for transport and civil security missions. This new order—the first ever placed with Eurocopter by the Mexican Ministry of Defense—will help reinforce the European helicopter manufacturer’s presence in Mexico. The Mexican Naval Ministry already operates Panther helicopters manufactured by Eurocopter, and the EC225 and Super Puma currently serve the Mexican President. Some 350 Eurocopter helicopters are in service in the region, and the Group's market share has progressed steadily to more than 50% today.

Eurocopter has been present in Mexico for more than 25 years. In 1982, the subsidiary Eurocopter de Mexico SA (EMSA) was opened to cover Central America, the Caribbean, Columbia, Venezuela and Ecuador. The main activities of the subsidiary, which now has a staff of 165 employees, are maintenance, aircraft assembly, customization, and technical and logistics support for the Eurocopter fleet in the region. In response to rapid market growth, the Group has become a major provider of training for pilots and technicians in the region through partnership agreements with educational institutions such as the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN), (CONALEP) Mexico’s National Technical Professional School and the country’s Pilot Training Academy. Another response to this rapid growth has been the development of the Group’s industrial activities in Mexico, and talks are currently underway with the Mexican authorities to decide on the location of an industrial plant.

The EC725 is the latest member of the Cougar family. The medium-lift, twin-engine helicopter in the 11-ton class is equipped with five main rotor blades. With its impressive fuel capacity, the EC725 offers flight endurance of 5.5 hours. It can carry up to 29 passengers in addition to the two pilots. The EC725 was designed to perform a wide range of missions, including search and rescue, long-distance transport, emergency medical services and logistics support. Before the current contract was signed, 151 orders for the EC725 and its civil version (the EC225) had already been received from 17 different customers. Its multi-purpose capabilities made it the logical choice of the Mexican Ministry of Defense.

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