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Saturday, 3 August 2013

From Today's Papers - 03 Aug 2013

The South China Sea Case: Paper Wars ?
<![if !supportLists]>-          <![endif]>Kamlesh K Agnihotri*
Japan released its latest edition of Defense White Paper titled ‘Defense of Japan 2013’ on July 9, 2013. While describing the Defense Policies of Countries which possibly affect the Security Environment Surrounding Japan, the paper contended that “… in regard to the issues of conflicting interests with its surrounding countries, including Japan, China has attempted to change the status quo by force based on its own assertion which is incompatible with the existing order of international law.” As expected, there was near instant criticism of this Japanese articulation from the Chinese foreign policy establishment, and was given wide coverage by the Chinese media with ample rhetoric thrown in. While the Chinese Foreign Office called the Japanese report as ‘worrisome, one media comment went on to say that “Japan runs the risk of playing with fire” by playing up the ‘China threat’ theory.
The above Japanese Defense White Paper was preceded by an American Senate Resolution tabled on June 10, 2013, “reaffirming strong support for peaceful resolution of territorial, sovereignty and jurisdictional disputes in the Asia-Pacific maritime domains”. After presenting a detailed narrative of events involving various opposing parties, particularly over last three years, the operative part of the Resolution states that “the Senate condemns the use of coercion, threats, or force by  naval, maritime security, or fishing vessels and military or civilian aircraft in the South China Sea and the East China Sea to assert disputed maritime or territorial claims or  alter the status quo” The similarity in language of the key assertionwith respect to the disputants’ endeavour to ‘change the status quo of disputed waters and territories by force’between the two documents is clearly discernible.
Means of Seeking Peace and Stability: Use of ‘Force’ or otherwise?
There is no denying the contentious nature of maritime claims, both in the East and South China Seas. However, there appears to be a general acknowledgement by various disputantswithin if not publicly articulatedthat ‘threat or use of force’ may not be a viable option for any party for decisive resolution in the prevalent regional environment. On the contrary, it may prove to be detrimental to the interests of the State that contemplates so. Assuming that an underlying consensus exists against this course of action, the only instruments left in the foreign policy basket are those which are predicated on peaceful means of redressal. Notwithstanding the fact that such instruments are inherently slow-moving and often limited in effectiveness, they are still considered to be a better option. The ‘use of force’ as the last resort for coercive diplomacy, of course, remains available and implicit while peace is being given a long rope.
Thus, if the ‘use of force’ is not a viable option, then the appreciation of the adversary’s intentions and own possible response strategies by States in question may be conveyed, both domestically as well as externally by way of official documents. These may take the shape of White Papers, parliamentary resolutions, strategic policy formulations, unilateral statements of purpose, bilateral/multilateral agreements and Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs), protest notes, demarches, pleas for arbitration and the like. The list of such documents put out in recent past, in the context of precariously balanced situation in the western-Pacific region, and particularly focusing on the South China Sea, is pretty large. While each may mostly be meant to safeguard the concerned State’s own national interests, different parties try to read between the lines, examine for implied signals and interpret them through their perceptions. The rebuttal that invariably follows does little to inspire confidence. A look at some such documents does validate this argument.
South China Sea Case: Documentary onslaught from one side
While the draft American resolution, duly cleared by Senate Foreign Relations Committee on June 25, 2013 awaits formal passage, this is not the first time that the US Senate has indulged in such an exercise. A similar Resolution was passed by unanimous consent after an extended China-Vietnam stand-off in May-June 2011 wherein the US Senate “deplore[d] the use of force by naval and maritime security vessels from China in the South China Sea”; and also “reaffirm[ed] strong support for… continued efforts to facilitate a multilateral… process to resolve these disputes.”
The American pitch for ‘multilateral’ approach to resolve the South China Sea conundrum stems from the fact that there are multiple parties from ASEAN grouping involved, in addition to China and Taiwan. There is also a general belief amongst the concerned ASEAN States as well as the US, that China as a large country with strong Comprehensive National Power (CNP) will have disproportionate advantage while negotiating bilaterally with individual disputants. This may result in the interests of such disputants being overshadowed through coercive diplomacy. Thus, the willingness of the US to remain a stakeholder in South China Sea matters, citing ‘national interest’, notwithstanding the fact that US agenda is different from that of the ASEAN disputants, is still more than welcome. Further the American support for ASEAN’s multilateral endeavour to draft the Code of Conduct (COC) for parties in the South China Sea, has provided much needed leverage to smaller disputants like Philippines and Vietnam in projecting their rightful claims vis-à-vis China.
Vietnam passed and promulgated its domestic Law on Vietnamese Sea’ on June 21, 2012 in order to define, manage and administer its maritime areas and zones. This Law effective January 1, 2013, brings the South China Sea archipelagos of Paracel (Hoang Sa) and Spratly (Truong Sa) under its sovreignty and national jurisdiction. It also mandates the Vietnamese maritime law enforcement authorities to ensure Protection of such sovereignty and national jurisdiction. This law in accordance with the provisions of 1982 Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) , combined with various submissions to the UN Commission on the limits of Continental Shelf (CLCS) starting May 2009, formalises its claims at the international forum.
The Philippines went a step further in seeking international intervention for resolution of its dispute with China. It decided to file for arbitration under article 287 and Annexure VII of UNCLOS on January 22, 2013, wherein it sought the following injunctions, among others:-
<![if !supportLists]>-        <![endif]>Declaration that China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea based on its so-called nine-dash line are contrary to UNCLOS and invalid
<![if !supportLists]>-        <![endif]>China bring its domestic legislation into conformity with its obligations under UNCLOS
<![if !supportLists]>-        <![endif]>China desist from activities that violate the rights of Philippines in its West Philippine Sea maritime domain
It contended that having exhausted all political and diplomatic means to resolve the disputes bilaterally with China and, particularly after a three-month long stand-off over Scarborough Shoal commencing mid April 2012, it was left with no option other than resort to the arbitration plea at the international forum.
South China Sea Case: The Chinese Response
China has steadfastly maintained its position of ‘indisputable’ territorial sovereignty over various land features in the South China Sea and associated maritime zones. China has issued its own set of documents, in support of this position in the past few years, especially since May 7, 2009 communication to the Secretary-General of the United Nations. This official letter, in response to the Vietnamese submission of its claims to the UN CLCS, had a map showing the famous ‘nine dash lines’ attached– possibly the first time that China formally did so.  Thereafter, it followed up for the next two years with letters in response to either Vietnamese or Philippines’ communications, refuting their stances all along, while reiterating that it ‘enjoyed sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the islands in the South China Sea and the adjacent waters.’ Further, China’s White Paper of April 2013 on ‘Diversified Employment of Chinese Armed Forces’ also lists the ‘safeguarding of China’s maritime rights and interests’ as an important duty for the PLA Navy.

In an oblique response of sorts to the promulgation of the Law on Vietnamese Sea’, China conferred the status of prefecture to ‘Sansha’  County the very next day, on June 21, 2012, and tasked it with the administration of the Paracel and Spratly island chains, in addition to that of Zhongsha Island (Macclesfield Bank). Yet another ‘Regulation for Management of Public Order for Coastal and Border Defense’ promulgated by the provincial Government of Hainan took effect on January 1, 2013, coincidentally (and perhaps orchestrated), on the very same day that the ‘Vietnamese Sea law’ came into force. The new regulation authorised Hainan’s ‘Public Security Border Defense’ units to board or seize foreign vessels in case they were found to be ‘landing illegally on islands under the administration of Hainan’ and violating national sovereignty, among five other misdemeanours.
As regards arbitration plea of Philippines, China, quite predictably, rejected it out-of-hand by citing the provisions of Article 298(1) of 1982 UNCLOS; whereby it made a declaration to the effect that “… [it] does not accept any of the procedures provided for in Section 2 of Part XV of the Convention with respect to all the categories of disputes referred to in paragraph 1 (a) (b) and (c) of Article 298 of the Convention.”

With respect to the US Senate resolutions, China vehemently crticised the 2011resolution, and has also expressed strong opposition against the current draft, warning that it may further complicate the regional situation. China has taken every opportunity to convey – whether at ARF Meetings or Shangri La Dialogues – that it does not see a role for US in the region. For instance, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson pre-empting a joint US-ASEAN Statement once stated that "We firmly oppose any country having nothing to do with the South China Sea issue, getting involved in the dispute."

Paper Wars?
It can be seen from the above paper trail that China on one hand, and the South China Sea disputants on the other, have escalated the claim, counter-claim and counter-counter claim machinations; and none of the parties are better placed while the ‘charade’ continues. Each assertion is met with an equally unrelenting riposte, and there does not appear to be any chance of a vital breakthrough in near future.  The situation on the ground remains tenuous, with contentious issues raising the pitch with predictable regularity, the current one involving the China and the Philippines over the Ren’ai Reef (Second Thomas shoal). Similar issues of sovereignty and associated maritime claims have been festering for close to a year in the East China Sea; and the current US Senate Resolution has taken cognisance of the situation in both the seas.
While the ‘threat or use of Force’ is not a desirable option at all, and the situation in South China Sea has thankfully not come to such a pass, the potential for the documentary releases to defuse the crises as the above narrative indicates, also appears to be limited. On the contrary, it can be argued that strident statements sometimes tend to complicate the situation further instead of bringing about a calming influence, prompting the author to use the sobriquet of ‘Paper Wars’.
The only silver lining appears to be the positive progress on COC discussions, which seek to evolve a code for ‘conscientious’ implementation of the ‘Declaration on Code of Conduct’ (DOC) agreement signed between China and the 10 ASEAN countries, more than a decade back. But as a Chinese proverb: “a thousand mile journey begins with but the first step” goes; the regional players may be in for a long haul in search for a lasting solution.
Army stages flag march in Assam
Bijay Sankar Bora/TNS
Guwahati, August 2
Renewed statehood movement by various tribal groups continued to singe Assam even today. Three persons were injured in police firing at Donkamokam in the violence-ravaged Karbi Anglog Hills district even as the Army staged a flag march in the curfew-bound Diphu town. A violent statehood movement has been launched by various Karbi tribe organisations under the aegis of the Karbi Students Association (KSA).

The police had to open fire to disperse a mob that set on fire a police outpost at Dongkamokam. Four persons, including KSA president L Engleng, were arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in instigating violence.

State Parliamentary Secretary (Home) Atuwa Munda said two additional companies of paramilitary forces had been sent to the hill district, while the Centre had promised to send five more companies.

Train services in the state were badly affected due to violence in Karbi Anglong hill district. The 12-hour "rail rook" agitation launched by the All-Bodo Students Union (ABSU) aggravated the situation further.

A Northeast Frontier Railway spokesman said all long-distance trains, including the Rajdhani Express, had to be regulated because of the "rail rook" agitation while many others had to be cancelled.

ABSU president Promod Bodo said Assam would have to be divided as Bodos this time would not rest till a separate state was formed. Life was also hit in Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Baksa and Nalbari districts in Western Assam due to the 36-hour bandh called by the All Koch-Rajbongshi Students Union (KRSU) demanding Kamatapur state.

The demands

    Bodoland: Areas located north of the Brahmaputra in Assam. Inhabited predominantly by Bodos, the map includes Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council
    Karbi Anglong: Is bound by Nagaland & Meghalaya. It has Nagaon and Golaghat districts in north and Dima Hasao district in South
    Dima Hasao: The district as well as Karbi Anglong district in eastern Assam near Nagaland
    Kamtapur: Said to belong to Koch Rajbongshis, its includes parts of West Bengal Cooch Behar, Jalpaiguri and parts of West Assam
ISRO to launch military satellite on August 29
Shubhadeep Choudhury
Tribune News Service

Bangalore, August 2
The first dedicated military satellite of India, manufactured by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), will be launched from French Guyana by the European company Arianespace on August 29.

Understandably, ISRO is tightlipped about GSAT-7, the military satellite. It is, however, learnt that the satellite will primarily cater to the telecommunication requirements of the Indian Navy. The Navy will use GSAT-7 to communicate with its submarines, frigates, destroyers and aircraft from its centres on the shore. It will also have a follow up satellite, GSAT-7A, for the Indian Air Force.

The 2550 kg satellite, which has already been shipped to the Arianespace’s spaceport at Kouru in French Guyana, has begun checkout to confirm its readiness with payloads in the UHF, S-band, C-band and Ku-bands. It utilises ISRO’s standard I-2K bus - the same as employed for the INSAT-3D satellite.

The Indian satellite has been placed in the lower slot of the payload “stack” of Arianespace’s heavy-lift Ariane 5 mission. The other passenger of the launcher, EUTELSAT 25B/Es’hail, I, has been placed in the upper slot. This satellite - built by US-based Space Systems/Loral (SSL) - will secure Ku-band continuity for European telecommunications operator Eutelsat and additional Ku-band resources for Es’hailSat, the Qatar Satellite Company, as well as initiate Ka-band capability to open business opportunities for the two operators.

The launch of the GSAT-7 is expected to be preceded by the launch of the communication satellite GSAT-14 (1,980 kg). This launch, by the ISRO’s own GSLV-D5 rocket powered by an indigenous cryogenic upper stage, is slated to take place from ISRO’s spaceport in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh on August 19.

From ISRO’s perspective, the August 19 launch is crucial. If ISRO can successfully master the cryogenic technology and put the 1980 kg GSAT-14 in the orbit with its heavy-lift GSLV (geosynchrnous satellite launch vehicle) rocket, it will not have to depend on foreign launchers anymore for lifting heavy satellites.

The last two GSLV launches by ISRO, including one with a locally made cryogenic engine, were failures.

Telecommunication needs of Navy

    GSAT-7 will primarily cater to the telecommunication requirements of the Indian Navy
    Navy will use the satellite to communicate with its submarines, frigates, destroyers and aircraft from its centres
India, China set to ink border pact to prevent face-off
NEW DELHI: India and China have moved closer to inking the new Border Defence Cooperation Agreement (BDCA) that outlines several confidence-building measures to defuse face-offs and tensions between rival troops along the unresolved Line of Actual Control (LAC).

A high-level Indian delegation, with representatives from the foreign and defence ministries, will go to Beijing in September to "fine-tune" the BDCA after India finalised its "second counter-draft" to the "revised draft" submitted by China earlier. "The final BDCA can now be settled across the table," said a source.

The BDCA goes "further" than earlier pacts like the 2005 joint protocol on the "modalities for implementation of military CBMs along the LAC" in charting out "more de-escalatory mechanisms" and military-to-military interactions to ensure local issues are settled locally between "local commanders on the ground".

The two sides, for instance, have agreed to additional BPM (border personnel meeting) set-ups in all the three sectors — western (Ladakh), middle (Uttarakhand, Himachal) and eastern (Sikkim, Arunachal) - to add to the existing ones at Chushul, Nathu La and Bum La.

While both sides have agreed to Kibuthu in Arunachal Pradesh, the BPM points in the western and middle sectors are yet to be pinpointed. "The Mana Pass-Lipulekh area in the middle sector has, however, not worked out so far. The aim is that the BPM mechanism should effectively kick in whenever there is a situation on the border," a source said.

India wants "greater predictability and stability in how incidents are handled" after the 21-day "unusual" face-off in April-May, during which the two rival armies pitched tents and carried out banner drills after PLA troops intruded 19 km into Depsang valley in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in Ladakh.

India has also proposed a DGMO-level hotline between the two armies, on the lines of the one New Delhi has with Islamabad. Conversely, there could be a hotline between the Eastern Army Command chief based in Kolkata and the commander of the Chinese Chengdu Military Area Command, which is responsible for Tibet and almost the entire LAC.

The first Chinese draft for the proposed BDCA submitted in March had raised the hackles of the defence ministry and Army because it suggested both sides should freeze existing troop and infrastructure levels along the LAC.

That came even as the government was getting ready to approve the overall Rs 90,000 crore proposal to raise a new mountain strike corps along with two "independent" infantry brigades and two "independent" armoured brigades (a total of over 80,000 soldiers) over the next eight years to plug operational gaps as well as acquire "some ground offensive capabilities" against China. India, after all, has lagged far behind China's massive build-up of military infrastructure along the LAC.

China later agreed to drop the clauses concerned in the BDCA draft. Then, on July 17, the Cabinet Committee on Security cleared raising of the new mountain corps and brigades.
India’s Missile Defense: Is the Game Worth the Candle?
India’s ballistic missile defense capabilities are rapidly maturing. Could this inadvertently make Delhi less secure?
On November 23, 2012, Indian scientists achieved a major milestone in missile defense: simultaneous interceptions of ballistic missiles at altitudes of 30 and 120 kms respectively. Such a feat put India on the map of a select group of nations, such as the United States and Israel, who have the capability of engaging multiple hostile projectiles. These tests, declared India’s premier defense research organization – the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) – were done in a deployment mode with higher echelons of the Indian Army and Air Force in attendance, making a strong case for eventual induction of this system into country’s defenses. However, with India’s missile defense capability advancing, questions abound on its strategic and regional fallout.

The History of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) in India

In 1983, India initiated the Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme (IGMDP), leading to the research and development of a series of missile platforms from Prithvi to Agni. In addition to these offensive missile platforms, IGDMP also developed defensive missiles such as Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM). Akash was initially planned for air defense measures and equipped with a potential of conversion to Theatre Missile Defense System. Then, in the 1990s, DRDO started conceptualizing a missile defense plan for India. The actual transformation of Akash SAM into an anti-tactical missile defense began in earnest during this period.

The stated objective of this program was to develop a system that could intercept ballistic missiles with ranges of up to 2,000 km by 1997. However, technological incapacity as well as non-proliferation measures by the international community created hurdles in the process. India also was far less enthusiastic in advertising its intentions and objectives in the field of missile defense, lest it invoked American ire. Subsequently, DRDO entered into negotiations with Israel and Russia for BMD platforms and associated technologies. It bought S-300 anti-missile platforms from Russia, developed long-range, phased array radars in collaboration with Israel and built guidance radars with French assistance. As has been the case with all other defense technologies developed by India, its quest for missile defense therefore had both an indigenous component and a foreign one.

In its current iteration, India’s BMD is a two-layered system. Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) is supposed to tackle incoming missiles at ranges of 80-120 km (exo-atmospheric interception). On the other hand,  the advanced air-defense (AAD) mainly consists of Akash Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAM) that can intercept incoming missiles at ranges of 15-30 km (endo-atmospheric interception). If the PAD system is devised for mid-course interception, the AAD is a terminal phase interception system which can only counter incoming missiles after their entry into the atmosphere. In their present configuration, these systems are designed to counter missiles with range close to 2,000 km traveling at speeds ranging from Mach 3 to Mach 8.

For tracking and guidance, it relies on its “swordfish” radar systems developed in conjunction with Israel and capable of simultaneously tracking more than 200 objects with diameters of no less than two inches at a range of 600-800 km. However, DRDO’s hunger for technological innovation remains unsatisfied. It has recently declared its plan to intercept missiles with over 5,000 km ranges, closing in on intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) ranges. These systems would be called AD-1 and AD-2 and would aim to counter missiles with far more velocity, up to Mach 12-15. DRDO has plans to extend the range of the “swordfish” radars to 1,500 km. In the future, a series of geo-stationary satellites may also be used for deduction of enemy missiles.

Why India Wants a BMD System

Many factors have motivated India’s quest for missile defense. First, Pakistan’s inclinations to pursue low intensity conflicts and foment terrorism under the shield of its nuclear arsenal have made India extremely uncomfortable with the strategic situation in the region. The Kargil War, 2002 attack on the Indian parliament and 2008 Mumbai attacks were symptomatic of this strategic imbroglio. Many in Delhi hope missile defense will provide India a space for limited wars against Pakistan.

Another motivating factor was the fear that there could be an unintended launch of a ballistic missile, especially given Pakistan’s vacillation between being ruled by a trigger happy military and being overrun by jihadi extremists. Lastly, India also realized that a limited BMD, especially to secure its political leadership and nuclear command and control against a first strike, would augment the credibility of its second-strike nuclear posture.

These motivations notwithstanding, perhaps one of the most important factor in advancing India’s BMD capability was the election of a Republican government headed by George W. Bush in the United States. In his May 1, 2001 speech at the National Defense University, the new American president announced plans to abrogate the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty.

Moving away from the Cold War concept of nuclear deterrence, the superpower was now endorsing defense against nuclear weapons. India saw this policy reversal as an opportunity to develop its own capabilities. Having been shunted to the backwaters of international nuclear politics, as underlined by its absence from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India grabbed this opportunity with both hands, becoming the first nation to publicly endorse Bush’s new plans.

Missile defense became the new mantra for cooperation between the two nations. Since 2002, India and the U.S. have actively engaged each other on missile defense. The subject has been a source of agreement between the two nations at nearly every meeting of the U.S.-India defense policy group. India’s scientists and military have been regular participants in missile defense shows in the U.S., Israel and Japan. If the Bush administration facilitated dialogue with India on missile defense, no policy reversal can be observed under the Obama administration. In fact, the engagement has only increased with the U.S. now proposing ideas such as the joint development of missile defense technology, and softening its stand on sale of Arrow missile defense systems to New Delhi.

Current State of India’s BMD

Still, India’s ballistic missile program is far from problem-free. Confusion and doubts surround India’s much trumpeted success in missile interception. Though one can observe DRDO’s declarations of deployment of a BMD in Delhi and Mumbai since 2008, no considerable progress on the front has been made. This should warrant particular concern in light of the scientific community’s tendency to exaggerate its technical accomplishments. There is also some confusion over the accuracy of these interceptions. DRDO claims a 90 percent accuracy level. Civilian analysts, on the other hand, greet this claim with a heavy dose of skepticism; after all, even the most technologically advanced countries have an interception accuracy of 70 percent.

Also, some critics have questioned the DRDO’s claim that the system is ready to be deployed. As skeptics point out, the system has only been tested in controlled environments. Moreover, the intercepted missiles targeted in these exercises are slow moving Prithvi-class missiles. They also argue that when analyzed against missiles that travel at far greater speeds based on solid fuel booster mechanisms, DRDO’s claims of an effective BMD system seem exaggerated. In other words, DRDO’s capabilities are far from proven when pitted against Chinese ICBMs, such as the DF-41.

Would India’s BDM Actually Create Security?

The ultimate shape of the missile defense is also a venue of debate. It is not clear to what extent the DRDO can expand the missile defense shield with its growing technical capability. However, expanding the missile defense to shield large parts of the country may be counter-productive. Logically, only a limited missile defense complements India’s nuclear doctrine, which relies on “assured retaliation” for the purposes of nuclear deterrence. A nationwide missile defense could create concern among India’s adversaries that it is preparing for a first strike; a perception which may ultimately prove disastrous for nuclear stability in the region.

Second, development of a pan-national missile interception capability is beyond India’s economic means. Still, it is important to acknowledge that a midcourse interception capability, which is India’s strength of its ballistic interceptors and of its ground radars, it is hard not to foresee mission creep in India’s ballistic missile interception program.

These issues intersect with potential negative strategic ramifications of India fielding a BMD program. Pakistan is acutely sensitive to any perceived military edge, current or future, that India may be developing. For example, Pakistan’s nuclear force expansion is believed to have been accelerated as a direct response to India’s conclusion of a civil nuclear agreement with the United States in 2008. Although the civil nuclear agreement could only potentially affect Indian nuclear force development by broadening its access to the international nuclear fuel market, and freeing up its domestic uranium for nuclear force expansion – a possible but hypothetical scenario – this was apparently enough cause for Pakistan to ramp up its nuclear force production. A limited fielding of a partly unproven Indian ballistic missile defense capability, as DRDO is planning, could similarly be enough to compel Pakistan to grow its nuclear arsenal – with all the potential dangers that this entails.

For instance, this would elevate threat perceptions in both New Delhi and Islamabad. The disparity in Pakistan’s growing nuclear arsenal size, compared to India’s more halting efforts, was enough for Jaswant Singh, a former Minister for External Affairs and nuclear negotiator, to call in 2011 for an end to the central tenet of no-first-use in India’s nuclear doctrine. Ending no-first-use would also dispel the atmosphere of restraint pervading the doctrine, and signal to Islamabad that New Delhi was increasingly comfortable with the use of force in the next crisis, protected by a lower nuclear threshold and a BMD shield. Given that Pakistan would develop its own sub-conventional, conventional and nuclear means to counteract these shifts, the price of fielding BMD capabilities would be a tenser strategic environment.

An Indian BMD system could also provoke a Chinese reaction. The BMD capabilities fielded by the United States are the subject of certain neuralgia among Chinese strategists, who continually worry that these will provide Washington with a first-strike capability against China’s deliberately small nuclear forces.

More broadly, Washington’s interest in India’s BMD projects could validate suspicions in Beijing – especially prevalent in the wake of the 2008 civil nuclear agreement – that the United States and India are attempting to contain Chinese great power aspirations. As shown in the Sino-Indian border stand-off in April, in which Chinese troops occupied and then refused to abandon positions they had taken within Indian territory for a prolonged period, China has not been shy in reacting to Indian activities that are of far less concern to China than the BMD issue. At a time when India and China are making a renewed effort to secure a long-term agreement on the status of their borders, BMD developments could therefore worsen the trajectory of their relationship, all while offering India uncertain returns.

Thus, the BMD program provides India with the prospect, albeit still distant, of blocking or reducing an offensive missile strike, and also serves as an area where American and Indian defense scientists can collaborate – building important bridges between the two states that could later transfer over into other areas. However, these benefits need to be weighed against the likely negative regional reactions. At the same time, it also is likely to raise tension and perhaps have unintended second and third order consequences in India’s relations with China and Pakistan. Thus, instead of being wholly consumed by the technical aspects of BMD, Indian policymakers need to also ask themselves whether the game is still worth the candle.
Indian Air Force to get first BrahMos-armed Su-30MKI fighter in 2015
BrahMos Aerospace chief Sivathanu Pillai tells Itar-Tass that joint production and development the way ahead for Indo-Russian defence ties.
The Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace hopes to transfer the first Su-30MKI jet fighter to the Indian Air Force in September 2015, BrahMos President Sivathanu Pillai said.

Two Su-30MKI fighter planes are now being modernised by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. Their full-scale mock-ups have already been made and delivered to India. They will be tested before December of this year.

According to Pillai, the first launch of an airborne BrahMos missile is scheduled for June 2014. He expressed hope that the Su-30MKI jet fighter armed with BrahMos missiles would be ready in September 2015.

Pillai told Itar-Tass that Russia would surpass its competitors in terms of military-technical cooperation with India only if the two countries created more joint ventures.
In 1960s-1980s India was completely dependent on contracts with the Soviet Union and use of Soviet technologies. After the Soviet Union’s   breakup, other countries started supplying arms and hardware to India, and Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation decreased, he said.

Pillai believes that Russia and India should have understood that the two countries need to create more joint ventures to design and make military products. In his opinion, the development of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles is a successful example of such cooperation.

“India and Russia are big friends. I would even say that Russia is the only true friend of India. And if we want to keep military-technical cooperation at the previous levels, we have to create more joint ventures, especially where it concerns high-tech products,” Pillai said.

This would allow Russia to go far ahead of its competitors in India, he added.

Pillai is confident that the BrahMos missile project can be considered successful only if the missiles are bought by both Russia and India. At the moment, only India is buying them. He said this issue is being discussed at different levels and expressed hope that Russia would make a positive decision.

The overall value of BrahMos missile contracts with India’s Navy, Air Force and Army has reached $4.2 billion and may increase to $7.5 billion by 2015.

Earlier this year India successfully tested a BrahMos supersonic missile from an underwater platform. This was the first time that any supersonic cruise missile was launched vertically from a submerged platform. The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile was successfully test fired from the Indian Navy's newest guided missile frigate INS Tarkash off the coast of Goa in late May.

The missile performed high-level “C” manoeuvre at pre-determined flight path and successfully hit the target. The surface-to-surface missile, having a range of 290-km, was test launched from the Russian-built Project 1135.6 class warship.

BrahMos cruise missiles have been adopted by India's Army and the Navy’s surface ships. The Indian Air Force has also ordered a batch of land-based missiles. Work is also underway to adapt the missile to Su-30MKI planes used by the Indian Air Force.

BrahMos is an acronym of the two rivers: Brahmaputra in India and Moskva in Russia.
When visiting the headquarters of the Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos Aerospace Limited, which makes supersonic cruise missiles, the chief of the Russian Army General Staff said that the joint venture made “reliable missiles that have few matches in the world.”

“A state with such weapons has a serious combat capability,” he said. The joint venture has designed a new version of the supersonic cruise missile of the same name that can be launched from submarines.

“The missile is ready for use from submarines,” Alexander Maksichev, managing co-director of the joint venture, told Itar-Tass. The missiles are intended for use aboard the Scorpion-type submarine, for which the Indian Navy has placed orders in France. The Russian-Indian joint venture BrahMos has designed a new version of the supersonic cruise missile of the same name that can be launched from submarines.

“We have proposed that these submarines be armed with BrahMos missiles too,” Maksichev said.

The BrahMos missile has a flight range of up to 290 kilometres and is capable of carrying a conventional warhead of 300 kilograms. The missile can cruise at a maximum speed of 2.8 Mach.
Mountain strike corps will bridge gaps in India's defence capabilites'
The government's decision to raise a 45,000-50,000-strong mountain strike corps has been welcomed by security experts who said it will bridge the gap in India's defence capabilities along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and possibly inhibit any military adventurism by China.

"When raised and fully operational, this strike corps would fill a crucial gap for India vis-a-vis China in the eastern sector. This will also hopefully make the current India-China negotiations on the territorial dispute more malleable," noted security expert C. Uday Bhaskar, a distinguished fellow at the Society for Policy Studies, told IANS.

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Wednesday approved the raising of the new corps. This will involve expenditure of some Rs.64,000 crore - roughtly half the defence budget for 2013-14 - over a seven-year period, official sources said. The formation is expected to give India the capability to launch offensive action into the Tibet Autonomous Region in case of a Chinese offensive.

Noting that the decision was "long-overdue", Bhaskar, however, said it was not clear when funding would be made available for implementing the decision.

"It will be a very firm signal of intent that will lower the probability of China taking recourse to military superiority to alter the territorial dispute in its favour - or encourage provocative intrusions," he added.

Bhaskar said the move was a step in bridging the gap with China's military infrastructure along the LAC.

"In terms of the overall defence capabilities and related offensive component - that gap will be filled."

Bhaskar said the move does not threaten China but definitely adds credibility to India's posture.

He said that the April incursion by Chinese troops in the Daulat Beg Oldi (DBO) sector in eastern Ladakh may have acted as "a trigger-pulse" for CCS decision but the proposal itself had been mooted about 10 years ago.

Bhaskar said India strengthening its defence capability along the LAC "will hopefully inhibit the Chinese PLA's adventurism.

The proposed corps, to be headquartered at Pangarh in West Bengal, would be India's first dedicated corps for offensive mountain warfare.

Lt. Gen. Kamal Davar (retd), the first head of the Defence Intelligence Agency chief, said the raising of the mountain corps will add to country's deterrent capabilities.

"It is a long-awaited, strategically apt decision which will go a long way in contributing to India's combat potential in diverse operations of war to deter our potential adversaries in the mountainous region along our vast Himayalan borders," Davar told IANS.

He said army headquarters must now speedily get down to raising various units required to make the strike corps operational.

"To achieve credible deterrence, the country has to have both strong offensive and defensive capabilities and the raising of mountain corps will go a long way in bridging the current gap," he said.

Savita Pande of School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said the government's move was "much delayed" and should have come earlier.

"China is playing a double game. Skirmishes have been occurring even as talks on the border continue," she said.

She said that building defence preparedness was very significant and India had to be as careful about China as about Pakistan.

"It (the mountain corps) will send a very good signal. It is a big step. India can negotiate from a position of strength," she said.

Pande said border talks with China have not produced results so far and the move to raise a mountain corps was a "right step in the right direction."

Lt. Gen. Surinder Nath (retd), a former army vice chief, said the strike corps will strengthen India's posture along the mountains and give the forces greater flexibility.

"It will definitely lead to a stronger posture. There is need to strengthen our posture particularly in the eastern sector," Nath said.

He said April border incursion by Chinese troops may have expedited the decision to form mountain corps but the army had been asking for it for quite some time.

"It will be good morale booster for our troops," Nath said.

He said a certain amount of time will be needed to raise the new corps and put in place the required equipment and weapons systems.

Capt Praveen Davar (retd), general secretary of the Congress' ex-servicemen department, said the government's decision has strengthened security and raised the morale of the people.

"Offensive capability is the best defence," he said.

* Commander Kamlesh K Agnihotri is a Research Fellow with the China Cell of National Maritime Foundation, New Delhi. The views expressed are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Indian Navy or the Foundation. The author can be reached at

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