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Sunday, 5 October 2014

From Today's Papers - 05 Oct 2014

Dwindling jet power worries IAF Chief
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 4
Indian Air Force Chief Arup Raha today warned that older aircraft were on their last leg and with new acquisitions running behind schedule, the IAF’s fighting capability might be blunted.

The existing Soviet-era fighter jets of the IAF are scheduled to be phased out over the next eight years. The IAF presently has 34 fighter jet squadrons (16-18 planes in each) against the need of 45 squadrons to tackle a simultaneous two-front war scenario with China and Pakistan.

“There is a delay in each and every project. Be it the design and development of the indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA), the acquisition of the 126 medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) or the design and development of the India-Russia joint venture fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA),” said the Air Chief at a press conference here today. “We have lost the timelines, overruns are much more than they should have been. It is definitely a matter of concern,” he said.

The IAF Chief said parts of the fighter fleet were on their last leg, especially the MiG-21 and needed replacement.

MiG-21, and MiG-27 squadrons are slated for progressive phasing out over the 12th Plan (2012-2017) and 13th Plan (2017-22) periods. Out of its fleet of 260 MiGs, the IAF has 110 upgraded MiG-21 Bisons. “The drawdown (phasing out of jets) has to be prevented by quick induction of LCA and MMRCA. However, the FGFA will take some time,” he said.

On the FGFA, he said there were some technology issues that were being resolved. “The FGFA will fructify but may not be in the timeline determined earlier. There will be a delay,” he said. On the MMRCA, Raha said this was the replacement for the MiGs.
Pakistani Taliban Declare Allegiance to Islamic State and Global Jihad
Islamabad, Pakistan:  The Pakistani Taliban declared allegiance to Islamic State on Saturday and ordered militants across the region to help the Middle Eastern jihadist group in its campaign to set up a global Islamic caliphate.

Islamic State, which controls swathes of land in Syria and Iraq, has been making inroads into South Asia, which has traditionally been dominated by local Taliban insurgencies against both the Pakistan and Afghanistan governments.

The announcement comes after a September move by al Qaeda chief, Ayman al-Zawahri, to name former Taliban commander Asim Umar as the "emir" of a new South Asia branch of the network that masterminded the 2001 attacks on the United States.

Although there is little evidence of a firm alliance yet between IS and al Qaeda-linked Taliban commanders, IS activists have been spotted recently in the Pakistani city of Peshawar distributing pamphlets praising the group.

In a message marking the Muslim holy festival of Eid al-Adha, the Pakistani Taliban said they fully supported IS goals.

"Oh our brothers, we are proud of you in your victories. We are with you in your happiness and your sorrow," Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement sent to Reuters by email from an unknown location.

"In these troubled days, we call for your patience and stability, especially now that all your enemies are united against you. Please put all your rivalries behind you ...
All Muslims in the world have great expectations of you ... We are with you, we will provide you with Mujahideen (fighters) and with every possible support."

The statement, released in Urdu, Pashto and Arabic, was sent after Islamic State militants beheaded British aid worker Alan Henning in a video posted on Friday, triggering condemnation by the British and US governments.

It also came despite recent speculation that the Taliban leadership, whose goal is to topple the government and set up a Sharia state, is actually wary of IS, which is driven by different ambitions that have little to do with South Asia.

The Pakistani Taliban, funded by local as well as foreign charity donations from wealthy supporters in the Gulf and elsewhere, operate separately from the Afghan insurgents of the same name, but are loosely aligned with them.

There are concerns about further turmoil in the region as most US-led foreign troops withdraw from Afghanistan this year, with groups like the Haqqani network likely to exploit the security vacuum to strengthen their hold on Afghan regions.

The Haqqani network, despite being based in Pakistan, is narrowly focused on its insurgency in Afghanistan and has not commented on IS-related developments.

The Pakistani Taliban have been beset by bitter internal rivalries over the past year, with the influential Mehsud tribal faction of the group refusing to accept the authority of Mullah Fazlullah, who came to power in late 2013.

IS, in an effort to extend its global reach, could exploit these rivalries to its advantage, wading into a region ripe with fierce anti-Western ideology and full of young unemployed men ready to take up guns and fight for Islam.
Indian Army says it is responding to ceasefire violations by Pakistan
Lieutenant General Subrata Saha said here on Saturday the Army has been responding continuously to the ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers.

Unprovoked firing and ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops at Indian positions along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir left one dead and injured four civilians on Friday.

Two persons were also injured by in the Swajian sector of Poonch last night.

Pakistan had earlier violated ceasefire at the shared border on the intervening night of September 30 and October 1. This is however not the first time the ceasefire between both neighbours has been violated.

Kashmir has witnessed almost uninterrupted ceasefire violation by Pakistan since August 15 this year. The fresh violations came after a gap of more than one month along India-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a news conference in Srinagar, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 15 Corps, Lieutenant General Subrata Saha said they had recovered mortar shells which they are analyzing.

"Yesterday's firing lasted for close to four hours, it was not absolutely continuous. It was intermittent. The highest caliber that we could make out from the bombs and the blinds that were discovered on the Poonch side was the 120mm mortar bomb. We are analysing it, we are trying to see where it fits in the larger picture," said Saha.

Many areas in Poonch sector of Kashmir have also been affected due to firing. Many villagers have been injured and some even lost their houses.

Saha assured that the Indian army is doing all in its might to combat the Pakistani forces at the border.

"You would have noticed, whenever there have been such instances of ceasefire violations, they have been responded to appropriately, both in terms of the response on the ground along the Line of Control, as also putting them across as per our ceasefire agreement or shall we say ceasefire understanding norms; we have been sending the hotline messages. All that action is in progress as much as it is on the ground outside the various headquarters," he added.
India should stop testing patience of Pakistan Army: Pervez Musharraf

KARACHI: Pakistan's former president and military ruler General (retired) Pervez Musharraf has sought to blame India for ceasefire violations along Line of Control, saying it should stop testing the "patience and resolve" of Pakistani Army.

Musharraf, who is facing a treason case in the Supreme Court, said, "Regular ceasefire violations on the LoC by the Indians is not good for the region and deplorable."
One Army jawan killed, another injured in IED blast in J&K

An Army jawan was killed and another was injured in an IED blast in Balnoi area of Mendhar in Jammu and Kashmir on Saturday evening.

Identifying the deceased jawan as Sepoy Akshaya Godbole and the injured as Sepoy Shubam Khadatkar, a Defence Ministry spokesman Lt Colonel Manisg Mehta here said that due were part of a “foot patrol” in the area. Both the jawans were rushed to the hospital, but Godbole died on the way.

The IED was suspected to have been planted by militants. The army troops have launched an operation to sanitize the area, he added.
Pakistani troops and militants have stepped up activity along the Line of Control. A girl has died and nearly a dozen others were injured in incidents of unprovoked firing by Pakistani troops and Rangers along the LoC and the international border during the past four days.

On Friday, Pakistani Rangers targeted forward Indian positions along the international border in Arnia sector. The BSF retaliated to the unprovoked firing by Pakistan which continued throughout night injuring some civilians in the area.

Earlier during the day, Pakistani troops had resorted to mortar shelling on civilian areas at Saujjian in Poonch district, killing a 17-year-old girl and injuring four others. A few houses at Gigriyan village were also damaged.

Sources said that Pakistani troops have restarted unprovoked firing on Indian side after a lull of nearly a month along the LoC to provide cover fire to militants desperately trying to sneak into the state from Pakistan occupied Kashmir. Since Monday, two groups of militants were reportedly seen moving on PoK side near the LoC looking for an opportunity to cross over to the Indian side.

The militants were desperate to sneak into the state in view of the coming winter season when mountainous passes will get closed due to snowfall. However, there has been almost negligible infiltration from across the border due to intensified vigil being maintained by army troops so far.
Indian Army 'salutes' youth for support in Jammu and Kashmir flood rescue operations
Srinagar: Army on Saturday "saluted" the efforts put in by the youth of Kashmir Valley during the devastating floods and said if it were not for the young men, the force would not have been able to effectively accomplish the mission of rescuing people.

"Probably, it is my men on the ground who have actually seen how effective and how important the role of the youth was. Every second or third boat of mine went to the local volunteers. If it was not for these local youths, who had guided us to reach the places, I cannot say how we would have been able to accomplish the mission," General Officer Commanding of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps Lt Gen Subrata Saha told reporters here.

"As far as the Army is concerned, it salutes the efforts put in by the youth, (both) with us and also by themselves. We are deeply conscious because we have seen it with our own eyes."

"My own officers and men have conveyed this to me at various forums at all places and they all had lots of tales to tell of the great, great efforts of the youth," he said.

Lt Gen Saha said the people of the Valley deserve all the respect and admiration for what they did during the floods.

"On so many occasions, when boats reached (submerged) houses, the inhabitants of particular house said 'no, not me, please go to the neighbour's house, they need it more than I do`. The people, the youth, they all have my respect and admiration for what they have done," he said.

The Commander, while commenting on a controversy surrounding the portrayal of Army in a recent movie, said art must have its own place.

"Honestly, I do not have time to watch movies. As a matter of principle, art is an expression and it must have its own place," he said.
India's Rising Military Might: Made in the USA?
In August, the Indian Ministry of Defense approved the $2.5 billion purchase of 22 Boeing AH-64E Apache attack helicopters and 15 CH-47F Chinook heavy lift helicopters. The sale still has one last hurdle—Indian Cabinet approval—but if completed it will be the latest example of a major shift in U.S.-Indo relations that in the past three years have seen Washington become India’s top defense equipment supplier.

The approval of the Apache and Chinook deals comes about a month after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel arrived in Delhi promising the El Dorado of defense deals: joint development and local manufacture of top-end U.S. kit.

The deal consisted of joint development of a new version of the Javelin antitank missile and the promise of access to electromagnetic catapult technology for India’s next generation of aircraft carriers.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources told IHS Jane’s that other U.S. technologies on offer included design and build of unmanned aerial vehicles, big-data systems, 127 mm naval guns and multirole helicopters for the Indian Navy.

"We can do more to forge a defense industrial partnership—one that would transform our nations' defense cooperation from simply buying and selling to co-production, co-development, and freer exchange of technology," Hagel said in a speech at the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi. Referring specifically to the possibility of Javelin co-development, Hagel said: "This is an unprecedented offer that we have made only to India."

So goes the sales pitch. The interesting thing about it is that so far, U.S.-Indo defense deals have followed the tried-and-tested Foreign Military Sales (FMS) route: a government-to-government procedure that avoids negotiating pitfalls and potential corruption. It also limits the extent to which the buyer can add any sweeteners, such as the transfer of technology or local assembly options that are key to modern defense deals between developed and developing countries.

Despite this reticence on Washington’s part, its push into the Indian market has been very successful. According to IHS Jane’s data, in 2009 India imported only $200 million in military equipment from the US; by 2013 that had jumped to $2 billion.

This means that since 2011, the United States has supplanted Russia as New Delhi’s primary supplier of defense materiel. It is possible to argue that the United States has grasped at low-hanging fruit (and that year-by-year defense-sales numbers can be misleading as they capture big-ticket transactions, rather than long-term trends). That said, the numbers involved shouldn’t be sniffed at: Washington has offered field-tested, battle-proven aircraft (Apache, Chinook, C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster) and top-end new platforms (such as the Boeing P-8I Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft) that fit local requirements and that the cash-rich Indian armed forces can afford to purchase.

It hasn’t all gone the United States’ way: Russia may have dropped out of first place in dollar terms, but its contribution to Indian military capabilities is comprehensive and unsurpassed across all three services. Meanwhile, countries such as France, the UK, Israel and even defense-export newcomer Japan are looking to expand defense ties with New Delhi, which they expect will remain a significant player on the international market for the foreseeable future.

India: Open for Business

The U.S. response to this situation—Hagel’s offer of joint development and systems such as the Electro Magnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) for aircraft carriers that aren’t even in U.S. service yet—says a lot about the state of the global defense industry and India’s position within it.

Simply put, India is the largest ‘open’ defense market in the world, accounting for nearly 10 percent of the $63 billion international defense market in 2013. It is ‘open’ because the other major markets, such as the United States, Europe, China or Russia, tend to buy local when they can. By contrast, India’s indigenous defense industry has singularly failed to keep up with local demand, forcing the MoD to look abroad to modernize its forces.

A look at the shopping list for U.S. kit gives a reasonably straightforward view of India’s strategic priorities. C-17s, C-130s, Apaches and Chinooks allow it to resupply and reinforce forces on the Pakistani and Chinese borders, the latter, a focus of new procurements due to army plans to establish a mountain corps. This plan was also the driving force behind talks (now on hold) to buy the U.S. Marine Corps’ BAE Systems M777 howitzer , which was preferred because it could be slung under a Chinook and moved up to the border quickly.
At sea, the Indian Navy wants aircraft carriers (potentially fitted with EMALS), P-8 maritime patrol aircraft and UAVs, because it is worried about China’s intentions in the Indian Ocean region. That is not to say that the United States is the only show in town; India also has a new(ish) Russian aircraft carrier, technical assistance from Moscow for a nuclear-powered and nuclear-armed missile submarine, and all kinds of Israeli and Russian kit on its new Kolkata-class guided-missile destroyers.

Meanwhile, the air force is happy to buy fighters from France (Dassault’s Rafale fighter beat Boeing’s F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin’s F-16 to be shortlisted for a 128-plane requirement) or Russia (such as the PAK-FA—Moscow’s stealth fighter); and although the Chinook and Apache both beat Russian competitors for their requirements, the workhorse Mi-17 ‘Hip’ is an Indian stalwart and French helicopter engineers have played a major role in helping India’s homegrown Dhruv platform off the ground.

Delhi’s preference for kit from multiple sources has its risks: interoperability, resupply and logistics can be an issue (especially in areas like small arms and artillery ammunition), while maintaining partnerships with multiple countries can be a tough juggling act. After-sales support is another challenge: some countries have dismal reputations for servicing and spares, so even if the platform is best in class, it might become a “hangar queen” due to poor maintenance.

That said, there is no doubt of the huge geopolitical benefits of diversifying military suppliers for the buying country. In India’s case, one has to look no further than the symbolic role that the ShinMaywa US-2i amphibious plane is playing in its “special strategic relationship” with Japan. Another example is Russia, which remains a key partner for Delhi, because it is helping to build nuclear submarines, supersonic cruise missiles and other strategic systems.

This diversification means that although the United States is eager to cozy up to India, Delhi has plenty of other options if it so chooses. The relationship is also complicated by Indian memories of U.S. sanctions after the 1998 nuclear test, along with Washington’s long-standing military support for Pakistan.

We Need to Talk about China

The big question is what the United States seeks in return for its military technology transfer—and what India gets from closer ties with the United States. The answer to both of these questions could be linked to the elephant in the room—or perhaps the dragon with the shared driveway.

As we’ve seen, India is using acquisitions from the United States and its allies to reinforce its position in the Indian Ocean region. Meanwhile, under its ‘Look East’ policy, Delhi is building alliances with China’s east Asian neighbors such as Japan and Vietnam. U.S. rhetorical appeals to India regularly emphasize the areas of commonality that differentiate the two countries from China, such as democracy, freedom of navigation and respect for international norms.

Within India, some suspicion remains that the United States wants to draw India into some kind of anti-China containment strategy, a move that would end Delhi’s cherished nonalignment. Other Indian analysts argue that if Asia is going bipolar, then the United States is the natural country to side with, given Beijing’s “all-weather friendship” with Islamabad and the ongoing territorial dispute in eastern Jammu and Kashmir and Arunachal Pradesh, which China calls South Tibet.

Either way, the relationship deserves monitoring. U.S. interest in India appears to be sincere, but may not survive having to work with local state-owned defense primes, which suffer from a terrible reputation for bureaucracy and high-handedness. However, if Washington—and its defense companies—can find like-minded India partners, then this could be the start of something big.

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