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Saturday, 29 September 2012

From Today's Papers - 29 Sep 2012

Chinese Aircraft Carrier: Capacity Building and National Pride
Kamlesh Kumar Agnihotri
Research Fellow, National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi
The first Chinese aircraft carrier, refurbished out of the Varyag unfinished Ukrainian carrier, sailed for its 10th sea trial on 28 August 2012. The Chinese official news agency Xinhua, while putting this fact out in the public domain cited its naval experts as surmising that the 304 meter long carrier with a beam (width) of 37 meters and displacing 58,500 tons, will be inducted into the naval service later this year.

No sooner did Chen Bingde, the Chief of General Staff of the Peoples' Liberation Army (PLA) formally acknowledged in June 2011 that the Varyag was being readied for maiden sailing, than considerable Chinese academic and media discourse erupted. The development was straightaway linked to public pride, national prestige and international 'must have' requirements by highlighting the fact that "amongst the five permanent UN Security Council members, only China did not possess aircraft carriers." An article in the PLA Daily disparagingly remarked that "some of China's neighboring countries which were not rich enough had owned aircraft carriers since half a century." At the same time, one Chinese strategist took the opportunity to point out self-righteously that while the American carriers have become the symbols of US hegemony, China would never seek that course even if it built its own fleet of aircraft carriers. The media editorials and articles commenced animated debates on the carrier's name and a report has speculated that it will be named as 'Liaoning', after the Province of same name.

The strategic community world over has been discussing the development of China's aircraft carrier program for nearly a decade, with debates and conjunctures about its exact nature, future outlook, effect on regional security and implications in the global domain. The Chinese Ministry of National Defense finally clarified that "the carrier was intended solely for scientific research, experimentation and training" when it commenced its first sea trial in August 2011. The Deputy Commander of PLA Navy was also quoted as having said that the carrier was planned to enter service by the year end.

Capacity and Threat-Estimation
The warship refurbishment goes through three broad phases  being able to float, move and fight. A preliminary analysis of the ten sea trials  particularly three successive sea trials in May 2012 and the fact that the ninth sea trial that lasted 25 days  clearly indicates that the ship has credibly crossed the second milestone of 'being able to move'. In the meanwhile, the Chinese media speculated that the Sukhoi-30 aircraft would possibly carry out 'circuits and landing approach' trials over its angled deck during one of the trials. The procedure involving the aircraft coming in for a 'low go around' simulating a landing, would surely have validated many carrier based airmanship aspects involving the men, material and procedures. While the carrier may be 'floating' and 'moving', the ultimate aim would lie in achieving the most vital milestone of 'being able to fight'. Therein lies the major challenge in transforming Varyag into a quintessential fighting machine.

The challenges can broadly be classified into two categories, namely, operationalising the carrier as a unit; and enabling its integration into a carrier battle group. The biggest challenge lies in the production and flight test of carrier-borne aircraft. The J-15 aircraft which China has reportedly manufactured out of imitation prototypes of Russian Sukhoi-33 aircraft, has been undergoing flight tests since end 2010, but appears to be constrained on account of reliability of its indigenous engine.

Further, China does not have its pilots trained in launch and recovery from carriers and the prospects of gaining this expertise appear quite remote on account of non-availability of platform, trainers and appropriate international collaboration. Self-learning of this highly specialised skill may involve substantial attrition of precious aircraft and pilots. It is precisely for this reason that the Indian Navy, despite possessing 50 years of carrier operating experience, is proceeding with great caution involving the ship and aviation trials of the newly re-furbished Vikramaditya carrier. The next stage of integrating the carrier into a carrier group will involve the challenges of joint operations with other supporting assets of the PLA, which is no easy task. Beijing possibly recognises this acute limitation when it articulates that this carrier is meant solely for 'scientific research, experimentation and training'.

The difficult road ahead, however, does not alter the fact that China has made substantial progress in its single-minded pursuit of the vision set out by Admiral Liu Huaqing, PLA Navy commander in 1980s and Vice Chairman of Central Military Commission (CMC) in the 1990s. It perceives no harm in indulging in some rhetoric to fan the strong sense of emerging nationalism associated with a typical rising power. This vigorous public discourse may also be an attempt to create suitable public mood and nationalistic fervor in the run up to the 'magnum opus' entry of the aircraft carrier into naval service by the year end, if not on 1 October, the foundation Day of the Peoples' Republic of China.
Swedish Investments in the Indian Defence Industry: Prospects and Challenges
13:39 GMT, September 28, 2012 In end August 2012, the Swedish defence and security company Saab Technology signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian private-sector company Pipavav Defence and Offshore Engineering Company Limited. Saab, with total sales of US $3,582 million in 2011, holds a vital role in Sweden's defence industry. Partly as a result of changing economic conditions, the firm's strategy is now directed towards international cooperation, with greater focus on investments in Asia in general and India in particular. This commentary will take a closer look at the characteristics of Saab's recent investments as well as the prospect and challenges for current and future Swedish-Indian collaboration in the defence industrial sector.


Swedish defence industry is internationally renowned for its high quality of competence and its top-edge and sophisticated technology. A broad-spectrum, advanced military-industrial base in Sweden developed during World War II without much influence from foreign interests or investments, as part of the country's 'neutrality politics'. Saab, being one outcome of this development, is the number one company within its sector in Sweden today.

With the recent MoU, Saab commits to strategic investments in Pipavav to a value of $38 million[1] - investments that will mainly be focused on enhancing Pipavav's infrastructure capability, maintenance and building of military hardware for the Indian army as well as for export purposes.[2] Additionally, the two companies have signed a technical partnership agreement, securing the continuation of an already ongoing cooperation and an extension of Saab's engagement in Pipavav.

Saab is involved in partnerships with several large Indian companies, i.e. Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), The Mahindra Group, Wipro, Samtel, FFV Services and S.M Creative Electronics.[3] As of now, Saab's business base encompasses ground combat systems, coastal surveillance systems, signature management, electronic warfare systems as well as communication equipment and avionics. The company's recent investments, however, reveal an interest in expanding the product line to other segments of the defence and security industry.

Saab's commitment to the Indian defence industry is characterised by several incentives to support and develop an indigenous Indian defence industry, to contribute to research and development, facilitate knowledge- and technology transfers, and generate customized solutions to the Indian market. Two examples of such attempts are the Saab India Technology Center in Hyderabad - a research centre and development facility in cooperation with Mahindra Satyam, and a sourcing office in Bangalore with focus on supplier development.


Saab's increased interest in the Indian defence industry can be understood as part of a larger structural change in the international geo-economic context. The Asian region, with sales amounting to SEK (Swedish Krona) 5,176 million for 2011, is Saab's second largest market. On the other hand, Sweden, and large parts of Europe, are struggling with economic instabilities, distressed markets, and diminished political and public support for retaining a strong defence industry. This can be seen, for instance, in the decrease in Swedish military expenditure by 18 per cent during the past ten years - a fall from 2 to 1.3-percentage points of GDP. In India, however, the trend has proceeded in the opposite direction, with military expenditure increasing by 78 per cent, to $46,086 million, for the same time-period.[4] In addition, India is also the largest arms import nation in the world - making the country a 'hub' of potential for foreign investors.[5]

Saab intends to make India its new home market, which is explained by India's strategic position in Asia, its emerging industrial capacities, democratic political and social foundation, and a comparably lenient regulation on their defence industry in relation to other major Asian nations such as China and South Korea.[6] With its presence in India, Saab will have a prime position in the expanding Indian market for defence and security products as well as earning a more direct access to the rest of the emerging Asian economies.

Saab is still a small player in relation to some of the giant defence and security firms, which makes it even more important for the company to establish a trustful relationship with the Indian industries and be a responsible partner. The company's strategy to sustain its competitive advantage is to contribute to capacity building and transfer of technological know-how for local partners, commitment to the development of an independent defence base and an enhanced civil security, and social development. India should value such an approach and support smaller scale collaborations with similar actors.


Scholars and expert committees have raised concerns about the deficiencies in India's defence industrial sector.[7] The defence and security industry is under heavy policy and export constraints, making innovation and structural improvements difficult.

India has thus to reconstruct its policy towards foreign investors if the country is to have a strong defence profile and safeguard its increasingly important role in the region. Despite these impediments, some advances have been made to attract foreign expertise, one of which is giving Indian private firms the chance to participate in the defence sector. The benefit of this initiative for foreign investors, like Saab, is that partnering with private firms is much easier compared to public sector companies. Entering into a Joint Venture (JV) also provides the foreign investor greater chances of winning contracts than by acting independently. Furthermore, as a JV is free to engage in offshore production, the foreign stakeholder will, by locating parts of its operations in its home country, have the opportunity for supporting the domestic industry and labour force. However, the most recent FDI policy allows foreign firms a 26 per cent stake in JVs with Indian companies – a level considered too low to attract relevant and sufficient technologies and expertise from abroad. A raise in the FDI cap to 49 per cent has been suggested, which would provide greater incentives for foreign investments as well as making the JVs more competitive in the domestic and export markets.[8]

In the recent MoU between Saab and Pipavav, the companies stated how they would be targeting global markets, besides meeting Indian and Swedish requirement for specific military segments.[9] Hence, these types of partnership, or JVs, will aid Indian firms in accessing new European markets. As a result, there will be opportunities for increasing procurement from Indian companies, providing India a reversed role in the current arms trade market.

There are, however, still some holdbacks to improved and increased partnerships with foreign companies, which stem from offset policies. If India is to enhance its defence industrial capabilities and attract advanced military technologies through foreign participation from nations such as Sweden, offset policies must continue to meet the interests of foreign investors. The 2008 provision of 'banking of offset credits', which allows foreign vendors to accumulate credit for discharging their future obligations, attempts to obtain long-term engagement by the supplying firm and is a sign of an economic policy more open to international economic influences. However, the current two-and-a-half year's validity period for banking of offsets is not a strong enough enticement for foreign investors. A longer banking period, along with further incentives to enable private participation and foreign partnerships, would be necessary for India to attract the right military technology and competences for its defence industry. Furthermore, the Ministry of Defence must make the requirements for future use of the accumulated credits more explicit, and be pragmatic about the areas in which new investments should be placed to benefit the Indian industry in the best way possible.


The Indian defence industry provides great investment opportunities for Swedish firms. Simultaneously, investments by Saab and other companies can speed up the development of an indigenous and modernized Indian defence. These opportunities, however, do not come without challenges. An assessment of the future of the Swedish-Indian industrial collaboration in the defence sector needs to be made by taking into account the prospects for bilateral cooperation in future political, economic, and security issues. Apart from the recommendations put forth here, further collaboration between Swedish and Indian firms necessitates an intensified bilateral political engagement to deal with the offsets and export restrictions on the defence industry.
India to buy 145 ultra light howitzers for Army from US
NEW DELHI: India will issue a request to the US Government next month for procuring 145 M777 ultra light howitzers for the Army at a cost of over Rs 3,000 crore.

"The Letter of Request (LoR) for procuring 145 Ultra Light Howitzers for the Indian Army through the Foreign Military Sales route would be issued in October," a Defence Ministry official told PTI today.

The clearance for procuring these howitzers was given recently by the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) headed by Defence Minister A K Antony.

The Ultra Light Howitzers of 155 mm (39 calibre) are being acquired for deployment in high altitude areas in Arunachal Pradesh and Ladakh, officials said.

The Ultra Light Howitzers are expected to be the first artillery guns to be included into the Army in the last 26 years.

After the Bofors controversy in 1986, no new gun has been procured by the Army for its artillery.

The M777 guns, manufactured by the BAE Systems of the US, can be airlifted easily and be used for quick deployment of assets in mountainous regions.

The go-ahead for procurement of these guns had been cleared by a high-level committee headed by DRDO chief V K Saraswat after leaked trial reports of the guns suggested that they were not fully meeting the parameters of the Army.

The Army is also hoping to induct the Bofors guns manufactured indigenously by the Ordnance Factory Board at its facilities in Jabalpur. The guns will be ready for pre-user trials phase in December.
Indian Army's Red Eagle Div Begins Platinum Celebrations
It is a proud day for Indian Army as well as the nation as its oldest fighting formation, the 4 RAPID(Strike) division also known as the Red Eagle Division celebrates its 74th anniversary and steps into the year of Platinum Glory. The Celebrations started with the remembrance of the brave predecessors of the division at the War Memorial, who have made the supreme sacrifice for the nation. The General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the division, Major General GS Chandel, Yudh Seva Medal laid wreath at the War Memorial and paid homage to the brave soldiers of the division in presence of Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) and jawans.

The Wreath Laying ceremony was followed by a Sainik Sammelan. Maj Gen GS Chandel, YSM, spoke about the division and its exploits right from the time of Second World War upto its operations in the modern era. He brought out that it is the devotion to duty and sacrifice of each soldier that has earned the division a pinnacle position in the annals of military history. He emphasised on the endeavour of each individual to uphold this glorious history of the division with their utmost devotion and dedication to duty. This, he assured, will ensure even greater glory in the days to come.

A brief comparison of the times gone past, the present and the times to come was analysed by the GOC during his address. He enlightened the gathering on tackling the important personal and professional events in life requiring a thoughtful solution. The General was confident in promising that the division will always be prepared for any eventuality threatening the unity, integrity and sovernity of the nation. After the brief address, the GOC took the opportunity to felicitate the jawans who have shown exemplary dedication to their work by giving them prizes. The event culminated with a high tea in which the GOC had an informal interaction with the officers, JCOs and jawans.

All said and done, the celebration of the Red Eagle division as it steps into its 75th year was very well organised and co-ordinated, as can be expected from the oldest division of the Indian Army. The warmth of unity and bonding could be felt in the air throughout the celebrations.
Indian army to hold largest war game this week
New Delhi: The Indian army will hold its largest war game ever when top commanders from all key formations will gather at Pune this week to validate its latest pro-active war fighting concepts aimed at traditional rivals, Pakistan and China.
This is the first such warfare strategising exercise under present army chief General Bikram Singh.

The war game, played over a tabletop, is being held at a time when Pakistan is holding its largest two-month army field exercise by its Karachi-based V Corps beginning Tuesday (and will go on till middle of November), at a location overlooking Jaisalmer across the border in India's Rajasthan, to finalise its warfare concepts aimed at India.

Hosted by the Pune-based Southern Army Command from Wednesday to Friday, the war game is expected to have Gen. Bikram Singh taking part, a top army officer told IANS here. "Tabletop war games are much more complex and sophisticated in terms of content, brain-storming and evolving of warfare concepts to counter the enemy's defensive tactics and offensive strategies. Field exercises are for validating the concepts evolved at tabletop war games," a senior army officer explained.

"Senior officers from all seven commands of the Indian army and key formations are participating in the war game," he said."The war game will evolve a proactive strategy in punishing enemy forces at the time of battle. It will also work on effective ways of coordination between the army and the air force, key for a joint war effort for maximising gains during battle," the officer added.

Southern Army Command is the largest in terms of Indian territory that it is tasked to defend, from the coastal states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala to the Rann of Kutch in Gujarat.
The war game is a follow-up to the three major field exercises carried out by the army in the summer and winter of 2011.

The 2011 summer exercise Vijayee Bhava was held in the Rajasthan desert in May by the Ambala-based 2 Kharga Corps, one of the three offensive strike formations of the army.It was followed by the summer exercise Pine Prahar in the plains of Punjab, also in May, staged by the Jalandhar-based 11 Vajra Corps, a pivot formation with both defensive and offensive elements among its ranks.

Both 2 Corps and 11 Corps are under the Chandimandir-based Western Army Command. In November that year, the army's Bhopal-based 21 Sudarshan Chakra Corps, under the Southern Army Command, carried out the Sudarshan Shakti exercise. These 2011 exercises, held under then chief Gen. V.K. Singh who spearheaded a transformation process in the army, aimed at building the capacities of the strike formations in delivering deadly blows to enemy forces in a short offensive by breaching the hostile army's defences and capturing important strategic assets deep inside enemy territory.

These exercises were also meant to test the army and air force's jointness and their firepower with the use of over 200 battle tanks and infantry combat vehicles, and artillery guns, apart from attack helicopters.
Indian Army ready to protect Panchayat members : Pandey

Kupwara , Sept.28 (KNS): Indian Army GOC 28 div Lalit Pandey, said that army is ready to protect panchayat members if state government calls them forward in this matter. "We're here to protect the people in every situation and circumstance" he added. Asked that Mustafa kamal has alleged the involvement of Army in panchayat members. He smiled and said that I don't have proper words to respond .He said that the around 600 militants are ready and looking for an opportunity to infiltrate line of control(LoC). "We have been and we'll continue to destroy their (Militant's) plans and would make their every attempt of infiltration unsuccessful. Asked about if Army is against the revocation of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) "To revoke or not to revoke AFSPA is the within the jurisdiction of the federal government. We'll perform our duties under the orders of it (Federal Government)." He replied. "We have sent our opinion to government but to take decision is within its jurisdiction" he added. He said that the militants are now using new routes to cross LoC like Nepal. "We're here on border and we've made various infiltration attempts of militants unsuccessful. In some cases we kill them and in some cases they succeed to move back" he informed. He informed that the infiltration attempt was foiled on Thursday. He said that Army suspected some movement on the LoC and found militants are crossing LoC. "As per our procedure Army challenged and chased them they returned back leaving behind six gunny bags which contained 10 AK-56 Rifles with 20 magazines, 98 Chinese made Pistols with 196 magazines and two Sub Machine Guns with 4 magazines. All the weapons were secured with packing tape and were brand new" he said.
Assam seeks Army help to counter poachers
After rebels, the army would be battling poachers in Assam. The sate government has asked the state police to coordinate with the army and Central paramilitary forces for forming an anti-poaching squad with focus on the 860 sq km Kaziranga National Park. This follows the shooting
of four rhinos this week. Two rhinos were alive when their horns were hacked off. The rhinos are bleeding profusely from their severed snouts and their chances of survival are slim.

"We have decided to let the army and paramilitary forces dominate Kaziranga. I have passed necessary orders to the DIG (central range) and he is coordinating with them," GD Tripathi, Assam home secretary, said. He added that the forces would be allowed to take appropriate action against anyone involved in poaching.

According to the police, local and international animal body parts traders were involved in the rhino horn trade. Since the four rhinos were shot in the Karbi Anglong – adjoining Nagaland, this hill district borders the southern edge of Kaziranga – the finger of accusation is being pointed at Karbi and Naga tribal militants.

"The horns are routed through Dimapur (in Nagaland) to south-east Asian countries," said LR Bishnoi, inspector general (law and order). "A rhino horn is sold at Rs50lakh to Rs1crore in the international gray market."

The spurt in rhino poaching, meanwhile, has triggered a war of words between forest minister Rockybul Hussain and opposition parties Asom Gana Parishad (BJP) and BJP. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi fuelled the verbal battle on Friday saying more rhinos were killed in Kaziranga during the AGP and NDA regimes.

Forest officials said poachers have killed 79 rhinos – 16 of them so far this year – in and around Kaziranga since 2007. Kaziranga, otherwise, is home to 2,500 one-horned rhinos. The park also has the highest density of Royal Bengal tigers – 32 per 100 sq km.

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