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Saturday, 1 November 2014

From Today's Papers - 01 Nov 2014

Spike Served: India’s New ATGM
India has been looking for a modern anti-tank/ infantry strike missile to take the place of MBDA Milan missiles that have been produced under license by Bharat Dynamics. The finalists in this competition were the American fire-and-forget Javelin, and Israel’s Spike with its combination of wire guided or fire-and-forget modes. As of October 2014, Spike appears to have won, despite offers from the USA to involve India in developing the next version of
The Spike infantry system consists of a missile in its cannister, a tripod, a Command Launch Unit that contains the optics and firing system, and a battery. It can go from “off” to firing in less than 30 seconds, as the operator lays the cross hairs on the aim point using either the 10x day sight, or the clip-on thermal imaging night sight.

Fire-and-forget targeting uses the imaging infrared (IIR) seeker, but there’s also an optional fully guided mode, using a fiber optic wire that spools out from the rear. They can be combined via “fire and forget plus,” which locks a target before launch but can be used to change targets or abort after launch. The missile flies in a lofted trajectory, hitting the target in a terminal dive and detonating a tandem high-explosive warhead that can defeat explosive reactive armor. The lofted trajectory also allows the missile to hit targets that are behind earthen walls, or otherwise not directly visible in line of sight. Reloading takes less than 15 seconds.

Spike-MR/ Gill is designed as an infantry-only weapon, and weighs 26 kg/ 57.2 pounds when fully assembled (13.3 kg missile in cannister, 5 kg CLU, 4 kg Thermal Sight, 1 kg missile, 2.8 kg tripod). Its effective range is 2.5 km. Spike-LR is a vehicle and infantry weapon that uses common systems, and extends effective range to 4 km. Vehicle variants include launch mountings and a control console, and Spike has been integrated into missile-capable Remote Weapons Systems.

Beyond these infantry weapons, Spike-ER is a larger missile that equips a number of helicopter types, and reaches out to 8 km. A special helicopter and vehicle-mounted variant called Spike-NLOS extends range to 25 km, and relies heavily on “fire and forget plus” via optical guidance. Neither appears to be on India’s acquisition radar just yet, but once Indian firms are license-building Spike family weapons, the government can always sign subsequent agreements to broaden its scope.
Oct 24/14: Spike picked. India’s top-level Defence Acquisition Council clears INR 900 billion in acquisitions. New submarines are the biggest, but there’s also clearance for up to INR 32 billion to buy and license-build about 300 Spike family launcher systems and 8,000 missiles.

Other DAC clearances include INR 530 billion for 6 submarines; 2 SDV underwater commando delivery vehicles; INR 20 billion to have the state-owned Ordnance Factory Board build about 360 more BMP-2 tracked IFVs under license; and INR 18.5 billion for 12 more license-built Do-228NG short-range transport and maritime surveillance aircraft from HAL. Sources: NDTV, “6 Made-in-India Submarines for Navy for 53,000 Crores” | IANS, “Defence ministry clears Israeli anti-tank missile, six submarines”.
Nov 11/13: DAC delays. Indian defense minister AK Antony and the Defence Acquisition Council give Javelin an opening in India, by delaying any decision on INR 150 billion project to equip India with 321 Spike family launchers and 8,356 of RAFAEL’s Spike-MR missiles.

Raytheon had received the Indian Army’s 2010 RFP, but only RAFAEL responded. Europe’s MBDA, Russia’s Rosoboronexport, Raytheon, and General Dynamics reportedly balked at India’s technology-transfer requirements, and did not bid. The Lockheed/ Raytheon Javelin needs the competition to be withdrawn and replaced by another RFP that it can enter, at which point India’s own state-run firms might choose to offer a version of their problem-plagued Nag missile. DAC’s non-decision leaves the entire situation very unclear.

Even if RAFAEL does win, Javelin is expected to remain a viable competitor for subsequent infantry buys. Sources: Times of India, “Antony defers decision on critical but controversial missile deals with Israel” | Defense News, “India Again Considers Buying Israeli-made ATGM” | Defense News, “India Pursues Indigenous ATGM Amid Javelin Talks” | Times of India, “Scam-wary Army calls off Israeli missile deal” (March 2013).

Nov 29/12: Competition. The Times of India reports external link that Israel’s Spike-MR missile external link may be about to elbow Javelin aside, because the Israelis are willing to transfer enough technology to allow production in India.

The Ministry eventually wants to equip all 356 of its infantry battalions with an estimated 2,000 launchers and 24,000 missiles, produced by state-owned Bharat Dynamics. The Army reportedly wants to complete the induction of these anti-tank guided missiles by the end of the 12th Plan (2017).

Sept 23/12: Javelin issues. India remains interested in the Lockheed/Raytheon Javelin. Their soldiers fired some in 2009 joint exercises with American troops, and Defence Minister AK Antony said in August 2010 that a Letter of Request would be sent. So, why has no DSCA request been approved? India’s PTI explains that conditions regarding the secrecy of certain components are holding up an agreement. This isn’t the first time transfer of technology and proprietary designs have had an impact on US-Indian sales, and it won’t be the last. Raytheon will say only that:

    “The Javelin JV stands ready to respond to all requests of the Indian government relating to the evaluation and procurement of the combat-proven missile while ensuring it adheres to a US and Indian governments’ agreement.”

If Javelin continues to hit roadblocks, Israel’s RAFAEL awaits with its popular Spike family.

March 25/11: RFP exclusion. Spike MR was the only bidder in India’s international tender, in part of because of language requiring an “active-passive fire-and-forget guidance system,” which only Spike meets. Most other missiles are either active/ passive guidance that requires crosshairs on target (GBM-71 TOW, AT-14 Kornet, MBDA Milan-ER), or fire and forget (FGM-148 Javelin). Defense Update writes:

    “The Indian Army plans to install the missiles on infantry combat vehicles currently carrying locally produced AT-5 or Milan missiles.

    The Indian Ministry of Defense plans to order 321 launchers, and 8,356 missiles, plus 15 training simulators in a multi-phase arms package worth over one billion US$. Two options are currently on the table – the U.S. Javelin and the Israeli Spike MR.”

Reports are currently conflicting. Defense Update suggests that both programs are proceeding in parallel channels, and at some point either the RFP (Spike MR) or a government-to-government deal (Javelin) will win out. The challenge for RAFAEL is that India has rules discouraging awards to competitions that wind up with just 1 compliant vendor, so a waiver will be needed. For Javelin, the issue is technology transfer. Sources: Defense Update, “Spike or Javelin? India Still Undecided on a Billion Dollar Missile Buy”.
Commander of the Navy visits India

The Commander of the Navy, Vice Admiral Jayantha Perera and Mrs. Shalika Perera visited India from 26th to 30th October 2014 at an invitation extended by the Chief of the Naval Staff of the Indian Navy Admiral RK Dowan. He commenced his visit having paid his obeisance at the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, which is held sacred by Buddhists world over. He also called on the Sri Lankan High Commissioner to India His Excellency Sudharshan Seneviratne and apprised him of the details of his five-day official visit to India.

The Commander of the Navy was accorded a Guard of Honour at the South Block on arrival and warmly received by the Indian CNS. They held cordial discussions which centered on strengthening the cooperation between the two friendly navies in the key areas of training, operations and maritime domain awareness. The Commander of the Navy also met the Principal Staff Officers of the Indian Navy and viewed a presentation on the Indian Navy and its present activities.

The Commander of the Navy also called on the Indian Minister of Defence Hon. Arun Jaitley, Chief of the Army Staff of the Indian Army General Dalbir Singh and the Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force Air Marshal RK Sharma. He held cordial discussions with them on a range of issues of mutual interests and bilateral importance.

The Commander of the Navy paid floral tribute at Amar Jawan Jyoti (the Flame of the Immortal Soldier) at the Indian Gate in New Delhi and placed his signature in the visitors' book.

During his visit to India, the Commander of the Navy also visited the Indian Navy's Eastern Naval Command. He was warmly received by the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief (East) Vice Admiral Satish Soni onboard the Indian Navy frigate INS Shyadri. He was briefed on the role and functions of the ENC and was presented with a special memento to mark his visit to the Eastern Naval Command. Thereafter he proceeded to the Indian Navy's Southern Naval Command in Kochi where he was warmly received by the Flag Officer Commander-in-Chief (South) Vice Admiral SPS Cheema.

During his visit to the SNC, the Commander of the Navy visited a number of training schools of the Indian Navy that included the Gunnery School and the Navigation and Direction School. The visit to the Gunnery School, his alma mater, was a memorable event for him being a Gunnery specialist.

During his interaction with Indian Media, the Commander of the Navy had commented on the good cooperation with India, hailing himself as a personal friend. He had stressed Sri Lanka's non-aligned policy and assured that India's national security will never be compromised. He had also taken the opportunity to thank India for the whole hearted support to relegate terrorism and stated that Sri Lanka is now on fast track for development reviving its economy with the end of the conflict in the island-nation.
India, UK natural partners, says Defence Secretary Fallon
Visiting British Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon MP, his Indian counterpart Arun Jaitley and Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh attended a flagship event on Thursday evening to commemorate the centenary of the First World War (WW1) that saw the participation of over a million Indian volunteers.

The event was co-hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs, the United Service Institution of India (USI) and the British High Commission (BHC).

It included the unveiling of six Victoria Cross (VC) memorials won by Indian soldiers during the 1914-18 war; the presentation of war diaries to senior retired officers representing 27 regiments of undivided India; the presentation of digitised war diaries of the India Corps (that fought in France and Flanders) to Defence Minister Jaitley; the unveiling of a Victoria Cross (VC) commemorative bronze plaque; the unveiling of a battlefield guide book and a coffee table book giving a pictorial overview of India and the Great War by Defence Secretary Fallon and Mr. Navtej Sarna, Special Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs.

Speaking on the occasion, Secretary Fallon said:"India and the UK are natural partners. The events I've attended and the discussions I've held in Delhi are the clearest possible evidence that this partnership is deep, broad and long-standing.

In a moving ceremony to mark the enormous contribution made by Indian servicemen during the First World War, Defence Minister Jaitley and I reflected on the common values which India and the UK shared then and still share now. There was, rightly, great pride on both sides.

We also looked forward, to consider how our countries can work together in tackling the many security challenges threatening global and regional security. And our shared pride at events a century ago stands us in very good stead as we embark together on that work."

In his address, Jaitley said: "I am extremely grateful to your Excellency (UK Defence Minister) for having given us brief glimpse of six bravest of them all in whose honour these plaques have been unveiled and will be going to their home towns or their villages."

A host of dignitaries comprising senior officials from the Indian defence, political and business establishments were present.

They included Navtej Sarna, Special Secretary of the Ministry of External Affairs of India; British High Commissioner Sir James Bevan KCMG; USI Director General Lt. Gen. (retired) P.K. Singh; Squadron Leader Rana TS Chhina, Secretary and Editor, Centre for Armed Forces Historical Research (CAFHR), USI; Brigadier Brian McCall, Defence Adviser, British High Commission; Jody East, Curator of Exhibitions, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery and descendants of some of the Victoria Cross winners.

The Royal Air Force (RAF) and Indian Air Force (IAF) bands were in attendance and played some inspiring western, Indian classical, martial and Bollywood music.

The audience had the opportunity to watch some rare original black and white WW1 footage, including that of soldiers from the Indian corps. This was procured from the UK especially for the event. There were also 16 to 17 billboards that highlighted the Indian contribution during World War I.

In all, eleven Victoria Crosse's were won in World War I. Apart from the six Indians, there were two Nepalese nationals and three by soldiers born in what is today recognized as Pakistan.

A war diary is an official record of events maintained during conflict. It includes routine orders, operational orders and administrative orders. In effect a historical record of the regiment's life on the front.

The commemorative bronze plaque was unveiled at Lancaster House in London on June 26, 2014 by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Office senior minister Baroness Warsi.

The UK's plans to mark the centenary of the First World War (WW1) both in the UK and abroad kicked off on 4 August this year. In the UK, activity includes a programme of ceremonial events spread over four years; a programme organised by the Imperial War Museum and funding for students and teachers to visit battlefields of the Western front.

The UK recognises that it could not have prevailed in WW1 without the huge contribution and sacrifice made by many countries.

The Great War started on July 28, 1914 and finished on November 11, 1918.

All of the world's then great powers were involved in the conflict, which saw the participation of 70 million combatants, including a million-and-a-half from the undivided Indian subcontinent. More than nine million of these were killed.

About 70,000 volunteer Indian servicemen died in the war.

The Indian Army was the dominant force, but the Indian Navy also contributed as also the Army Flying Corps. There were also labour battalions recruited from Bengal.

The Great War was fought in 13 theatres, and the Indian Army has the distinction of having fought in almost all theatres of the war - France and Flanders, alongside the ANZACs at Gallipoli, Mesopotamia, Palestine and North Africa.

Apart from the memorial service conducted on August 4 at the Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth Leaders which coincided with the closing ceremony of the 2014 Commonwealth Games; homage at the Symphorien Military Cemetery in Mons Belgium and a candle-lit vigil at Westminster Abbey, the UK has announced a rolling four-year programme with a significant WW1 milestone marking each year. These include centenary events at Gallipoli in April 2015, commemorations at the Battle of Jutland and first Battle of the Somme in 2016; commemoration at Passchendale in 2017 and observing the Armistice Day anniversary in 2018.
Indian Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh to Visit Bhutan
NEW DELHI: The Indian Army chief, Gen Dalbir Singh, will pay a goodwill visit to Bhutan Oct 31 to Nov 2, it was announced Friday.

The visit assumes special significance in the light of India’s special relationship with Bhutan, an official statement said.

This is the first visit to Bhutan by Gen Dalbir Singh "and it underpins India’s priorities in maintaining friendly, peaceful and cordial ties with her immediate neighbours", the statement said.

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