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Tuesday, 17 February 2015

From Today's Papers - 17 Feb 2015

Rafale jet makers not ready to share responsibility: Rao Inderjit

Shubhadeep Choudhury

Tribune News Service

Bengaluru, February 16
Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh today indicated that the deal with Dassault for supplying 126 Rafale multirole fighter aircraft to the IAF was not dead yet though it was facing problems.

He admitted the French manufacturers were not ready to share “responsibilities” for anything that might go wrong with the aircraft licence-produced in India by Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL).

This was not acceptable to India, the minister said while answering a question during a panel discussion organised as part of the “Aero-India” air show beginning in the city from Wednesday.

One hundred and eight (108) out of 126 aircraft are supposed to be produced in India by HAL under licence from Dassault. Rafale was adjudged winner of the MMRCA (medium multirole combat aircraft) tender floated by the IAF to revamp its depleted fleet from the current 38 squadrons to the authorised 45 squadrons.

Boeing’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16IN Super Viper, Saab’s Gripen NG, and the Russian MiG-35 were the other fighters in the fray for the billion dollar deal. While the choice of Rafale was made way back in January 2012, little progress had been made toward taking the deal forward since then.
Assam Rifles jawan kills two civilians

Tribune News Service

Guwahati, February 16
Two persons were killed and one woman injured when a jawan of Assam Rifles opened fire at Mission Chariali in Tezpur town late last night following a scuffle with civilians.The jawan was not on duty at that time _and was carrying his _service weapon.

A defence spokesman said the Assam Rifles jawan, identified as Karnail Singh Kapoor, was from 12 Assam Rifles Company posted in Tezpur town with a division headquarters at Charduar in Sonitpur district of Assam. He was taken into custody by the police after the incident.

The deceased were identified as Gautom Das, alias Maina, and Babu Das. The injured was identified as Jeena Das who was admitted into the Tezpur Civil Hospital.
Tejas Handed Over to Air Force, But Training Manual Missing
New Delhi:  After a crippling three decade wait by the Indian Air Force for the home-made fighter jet Tejas,  Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar  has reportedly set a deadline of a month for training and maintenance manuals to be shared with pilots.

The first Tejas- a Light Combat Aircraft- was presented with much fanfare last month to the Air Force by the manufacturer  - state-run  Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, which is based in Bangalore.  The Tejas is intended to replace the ageing Russian-made MiG-21 jets which are grimly referred to as  'flying coffins'.  Nearly half of  the entire strength of the MiG -21 have crashed over the years. The fighter jets were to be decommissioned by 2017, but retiring the aircraft was pushed to 2025, because of the delay in supplying the Tejas.
Even now, the Tejas is not combat-worthy.  Advanced trials are planned for December 2015.  Mid-air refueling has yet to be worked out, and radars and weapon systems have not been integrated, said sources to NDTV.

Without any manuals, the Tejas can for now only be flown by very experienced test pilots, a senior air force official said on condition of anonymity.

The design, development, production and induction of about 170 Tejas fighters (120 for the Air Force, 50 for Navy) will cost India over Rs. 50,000 crores. The project was first cleared in 1983.

What the Air Force really wants is an upgraded avatar of the Tejas  -the Mark-11 version - which will have more powerful engine and will be delivered at the earliest in 2021.
Under Xi, China's defense budget seen defying economic slowdown
(Reuters) - President Xi Jinping is expected to authorize robust defense spending for this year despite China's slowing economy, determined to strengthen the country's armed capabilities amid growing unease in Beijing at Washington's renewed focus on Asia.

While China keeps the details of its military spending secret, experts said additional funding would likely go toward beefing up the navy with anti-submarine ships and developing more aircraft carriers beyond the sole vessel in operation.

The military budget will be announced at the start of the annual meeting of China's parliament on March 5. Last year, defense spending rose 12.2 percent to $130 billion, second only to the United States.

That continued a nearly unbroken two-decade run of double-digit budget increases, although many experts think China's real defense outlays are much larger.

China's leaders have routinely sought to justify the country's military modernization by linking defense spending to rapid GDP growth. But growth of 7.4 percent last year was the slowest in 24 years, and a further slowdown to around 7 percent is expected in 2015.

Other factors would now keep defense spending high, from the U.S. military and diplomatic "rebalancing" to Asia to Xi's crackdown on corruption in the People's Liberation Army, which has caused some disquiet in the ranks, military experts said.

"Xi has put a premium on the 'dream of a strong military' as part of his grand strategy for China's rise, perhaps more than any other modern (Chinese) leader," said Zhang Baohui, a security specialist at Hong Kong's Lingnan University.

"This greater emphasis on the military is very significant."

Indeed, troops are rehearsing for a major parade in September where the PLA is expected to unveil new homegrown weapons in the first of a series of public displays of military might planned during Xi's tenure, sources have told Reuters.


At the forefront of the minds of China's strategic military planners is the U.S. rebalancing, which among other things calls for 60 percent of U.S. warships to be based in the Asia Pacific by 2020, up from about 50 percent.

"The adjustment in the U.S. strategy towards the Asia Pacific has brought enormous external pressures to bear on China," said a recent commentary by the Study Times paper, published by the Central Party School, which trains rising officials.

It pointed in particular to U.S. efforts to bolster alliances with countries such as Japan and the Philippines.

China is involved in bitter disputes over sea boundaries with both nations, as well as Vietnam, which has sought to strengthen ties with Washington.

"Higher Chinese spending, coupled with increasingly aggressive actions and assertive language, is likely to further push countries into the U.S. nominal embrace," said Richard Bitzinger, a military analyst at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

Many Asian countries are also getting out their chequebooks.

Japan approved a record $42 billion military budget last month. India boosted defense spending by 12 percent for 2014-15 to $38.35 billion and military expenditure is seen rising to $40 billion in Southeast Asia in 2016.

While Chinese leaders would be aware of the regional optics of announcing a big budget for the 2.3-million strong PLA at a time of lower projected fiscal revenue growth, diplomats said they believed Xi wants to also placate military leaders and ordinary soldiers feeling the heat from an anti-graft campaign.

China's top military decision-making body, the Central Military Commission, which Xi chairs, has investigated several generals as part of a scandal into the selling of PLA positions.

It has also targeted the second artillery corps, which controls China's nuclear missiles, as well as the navy and the air force.

"It is inconceivable Xi could make cuts now given the enemies he's got internally," one Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Despite the massive sums spent over the past two decades, a recent report by the U.S.-based RAND Corp think tank said the PLA suffered from potentially serious weaknesses that could limit its ability to win future wars.

The report, commissioned by a U.S. Congressional committee, said China faced shortcomings stemming from outdated command structures, quality of personnel and corruption, as well as weakness in combat capabilities such as anti-submarine warfare.

Aware of some of these gaps, experts said the PLA would continue strengthening its naval presence in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, a region dominated by the United States and its allies, and through which four-fifths of China's oil imports pass.

"The navy is still seriously lagging behind in anti-submarine capabilities," said a military expert at a Chinese government think tank who declined to be identified.

Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said he expected more funding for military drones and maritime surveillance aircraft.

"Pro-defense spending actors within China can easily say China is expanding its global role to justify spending on submarines, amphibious ships and aircraft carriers," he said.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Budget must focus on defence

The Modi Government’s first real annual Budget is perhaps its most important test after flunking the Delhi Assembly examination.

Businessmen will be watching it to gauge the intentions and determination of the Government to create a pro-business atmosphere in the country.

But equally it will be eagerly watched by the armed forces community.


This is because it will provide the signal as to the extent to which the Government is committed towards accelerating their delayed modernisation.

The three services have their big-ticket wish list – Rafale for the IAF, seed money for the Army’s mountain corps, the helicopters, missiles and submarines for the Navy.

But they also have equally urgent requirements for plugging gaps and consolidating existing holdings.

The problem as the Rs 2,29,000 crore interim defence budget of July 2014 reveals is that – 39 per cent is spent on pay and allowances, 11 per cent on maintaining existing holdings, another 9 per cent on miscellaneous things like housing and transportation.

Only Rs 94,588 crore (41 per cent) is available for new acquisitions. Even this is misleading as the capital budget contains money that must be paid out for past acquisitions, besides the needs of the DRDO and ongoing constructions in Indian factories and yards such as the new INS Viraat, for whom a sum of Rs 1,200 crore were appropriated.

The two big projects, going head to head as it were, are the Air Force’s Rafale multi-role fighter whose estimates are Rs 120,000 crore, and the Army’s mountain corps which also requires a like amount, if you take into account its ancillary requirement of a division worth of medical and engineering troops.

These are heady sums, and even if broken up into yearly installments, they could distort defence acquisitions since they would leave little or no money for other equally critical needs such as artillery guns for the Army, the replacement of light utility helicopters, minesweepers for the Navy, and so on.

The Government’s headaches will be compounded by the fact that the Army’s mountain corps has already been raised.

The Army skimmed off personnel from its 300 plus battalions, which are usually about 900 strong, and whose pay and allowances have already been budgeted for.

Their equipment came from the war wastage reserves (WWR). So while the WWR now stands at alarmingly low levels, the Indian Army does have an addition corps which has added an important element in the order of battle in the country’s northern border.

In the past five years, the ITBP which polices the border has been reporting a sharp increase of Chinese patrolling and presence along 14 or so points on the LAC that defines the Sino-Indian border where Chinese claims and ours overlap.

Further, the Chinese presence is not only more insistent, it is now often leavened by locals who demand that the Indian side go back to their side of the border.

Two recent manifestations of changed behaviour were the Chinese encampment in the Depsang Plains which stoked off a crisis in April-May 2013 and the massing of troops in the Churmur area at the junction of Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh during Xi Jinping’s official visit to India last September.


Actually, the Army will increase its strength by nearly 90,000 in the coming years taking its strength up to 1.26 million.

This is not a good sign since this will require a significant enhancement of the Army’s budget in the coming years, with a comparative pressure on the capital needs of the IAF and the Indian Navy, as well, indeed, on the modernisation requirements of the Army itself.

Army leaders see this as inescapable since the two principal threats to the country come from over the land borders with Pakistan and China.

In the past, the armed forces were told that they needed to maintain a deterrence posture with Pakistan, which included the possibility of launching a war into Pakistani territory.

In the case of China, the instructions were to plan a purely defensive battle along the mountain frontier.


With the PLA modernisation and force accretions in Tibet, the Indian Army cannot undertake its tasks in a purely defensive deployment.

Equally important is the fact that over the years, coordination between Pakistan and China has, if anything, been intensifying.

During the 1965 and 1971 wars, the Chinese did not intervene on Pakistan’s behalf. But they made some pretty scary threats to do so.

The issue confronting military planners now is: What if the next time around, China does indeed intervene?

The Chinese are masters of timing and it is difficult to forget their 1975 operation to eject the South Vietnamese forces and occupy the Paracel Islands during the closing phase of the war that unified Vietnam, ironically with Chinese help.

The problem is not that the armed forces demands are excessive, but the challenge of meeting them in a manner which does not deflect India from its goal of long-term economic growth, which at the present juncture requires massive investments in infrastructure and manufacturing industries.

The way to go is to sharply tighten the management of our armed forces, which means cutting waste and needless redundancies.

The first step here is to enforce the concept of an integrated military where acquisitions planning can be standardised and prioritised.

Acquisitions are important, but there is equal need for reorganising the command and control of the armed forces to emphasise integrated functioning.

The second is to create an expert civilian bureaucracy which can undertake the task instead of the inexpert one at present which exercises power by emphasising procedure over subject specialisation.

These are tasks that cannot be left to the armed forces leadership or the Ministry of Defence. It is something that Prime Minister Modi and his colleagues in the Cabinet Committee on Security need to sort out urgently.
India to have chief of defence staff: Minister
 India will soon have a chief of defence staff to evaluate the requirements of the armed forces on merits, Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh said Monday.

"The chief of defence staff will be a permanent post with a fixed tenure. Though the chief will be selected from the services, he will be impartial to all the three services - army, navy and air force," Singh told reporters on the margins of an Aero India seminar here.

As the three services have agreed to the creation of the chief of defence staff, the union government will seek a consensus opinion of political parties to constitute the post with specific terms.

"The chief of defence staff will have an overall perspective and will assess the needs of all the three services dispassionately to utilise the funds as per their present and future requirements," Singh added.

The three-day international seminar "Aerospace Vision: 2050" is being held as part of the 10th edition of the five-day Aero India 2015 on the Indian Air Force base at Yelahanka on the city's outskirts from Wednesday.
Akash to be BEL’s star at show; more IAF orders likely
Bengaluru, Feb 16: Home-grown Akash Missile System (AMS) is all set to storm this year's Aero India with Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) projecting it as the lead product in India's indigenous march, since Independence.

BEL is showcasing AMS as the perfect case study to refer to while sharing the advantages of a Make in India concept in aerospace and defence. AMS is the first indigenously-built missile defence system in India.
Military sources confirm to OneIndia that the Indian Air Force (IAF) is likely to place additional procurement orders on BEL (49 firing units) in a phased manner. The IAF might immediately procure seven squadrons of AMS (consisting of 14 firing units.) The configuration of the seven new squadrons is likely to be similar to those being deployed currently.

Already commissioned in IAF arsenal

During an exclusive interview to OneIndia, Nataraj Krishnappa, General Manager (Missile Systems), BEL, said that the first order for AMS (worth about Rs 1200 crore, two squadrons) was placed by IAF in 2008. These squadrons have already been supplied, installed and commissioned.
"A repeat order from the IAF for six more squadrons of AMS (worth around Rs 3500 crore) came in December 2010 and four squadrons of the same have been already manufactured. All six squadrons will be completed ahead of schedule in 2015," says Nataraj, heading one of the most-talented teams in BEL.

The Indian Army has already placed an order on Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), Hyderabad, for two regiments of Akash Weapon System.
It was during the UPA regime the decision to split Akash orders were taken with BEL getting IAF orders and BDL, the Army versions. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had then felt that splitting the orders would encourage competition among DPSUs.

However, BEL is supplying all the radars, control centres, satellite data-links to BDL for integration on Army variants of Akash systems. Further, BEL has developed the software for the entire system apart from having the contract from BDL to complete integration of all the elements and commissioning of the system.
To a specific query on the home-grown content on AMS, Nataraj said that barring few electronic components, every bit has the ‘Made in India' tag.
"The design and manufacture is done exclusively within India, barring certain components which are not available here.

As you know the electronic components manufacture in India is in its infancy and world over design and production is in the hands of few developed countries. Almost 85 percent of the total cost of inputs is sourced within India," he said.

BEL has received orders worth about Rs 4500 crore from IAF and their share in the Army version is over Rs 3000 crore, out of total work order of about 14000 crore. BEL has projected the estimated business potential from AMS over Rs 15000 crore, in future.

Make in India concept's best example

For the IAF version, BEL is the lead vendor and integrator. The surveillance radar, tracking radar, flight control centre, support systems and the integrated software for AMS are manufactured by BEL.
Akash missiles are supplied by BDL, while the launchers for missiles are being supplied by Tata Power / L&T and the squadron control centre is manufactured by ECIL. Integration of all equipment and software at the squadron level, installation and commissioning of AMS is being done by BEL. The weapon system software developed jointly by LRDE and BEL plays a crucial role in achieving the target destruction.

AMS protects vulnerable points and vulnerable areas with a slant range of 25-30 km at altitudes up to 20 km. It can destroy high-speed targets like fighter aircraft and UAVs. Except the final action of pressing the‘destroy' button, most of the major functions are done by the computer running on the weapon system software, being jointly developed by BEL and DRDO.

Challenges and lessons for BEL

BEL says that the AMS prototype was built on BMP Tanks and the development took several years. The first order for production came from IAF and the configuration of prototype was unsuitable for the user. Within just three years, BEL had to re-engineer the AMS on to truck/trailer-mounted version. Many systems that became obsolete were changed, before delivering the final product to the IAF.
BEL adopted a concurrent engineering and production model with close co-operation of all the DRDO labs and other industry partners.
"This was a daunting task but all the objectives were achieved and the first squadron was completed within time," he adds.

There are about 100 major vendors (including other units of BEL) spread all over India, who scripted this Make in India success story.

"We have huge number of stakeholders to be managed, including DRDO labs, various inspection agencies (MSQAA), Industry partners and the IAF. Communication management and conflict management are two sets of skills we learned from Akash project. It was definitely a new experience for BEL," he says.

Many trials on different modes

BEL says that the system was put in desert conditions and extreme cold conditions (Pokhran flight trials) during the prototype stage. PTAs (Pilotless Target Aircraft) pulling dummy targets were used most of the times for firing trials at Balasore.

At times fighter jets (including Sukhois) dropped parachutes fitted with targets, and on few occasions, the PTAs were fired at directly.
"Low flying targets at near distances were successfully destroyed by AMS. High altitude far boundary, multiple targets, mid altitude and mid-range with approaching and receding targets, etc were the other missions which were successfully conducted. The user inputs keep us working on newer ideas as well," he says.
After extensive trials, the IAF seems to be a happy customer. The IAF has tested the AMS capability in several simulated war scenarios and the results are said to be satisfactory. BEL says it can add any new features being demanded by the user within a short time.

DRDO's role and some names to remember

Team BEL gives the credit of AMS to former DRDO Chief Controller Dr Prahlada and Project Director (PD) Akash, late Dr R R Panyam from DRDL.

"The project is currently steered by G Chandramouli, Scientist ‘H'& OS, the current PD Akash and his team. The other senior scientists who have played pivotal roles with significant contribution in making the project successful are G N Rao, Scientist ‘G', DRDL, M Vijayakumar, Scientist ‘G', Dr R V Narayana, Scientist ‘H', both from LRDE, V V Parlikar, Scientist ‘G' from R&DE (E)," says Nataraj.

BEL says the AMS teams are scattered all over India, with a project management team of around 10 officers located at BEL Bengaluru.
"We had functional teams of 75 members, including D&E, materials management, assembly, software and testing working exclusively for the project here," he says.
Role of private industry

Tata Power is one of the major partners in the programme, who are supplying the launchers, with work share arrangement between them and L&T. Astra Microwave, Hyderabad, Mak Controls, Coimbatore, Tata Motors and Icomm, Hyderabad, are few other major vendors.

There are scores of other smaller private industries contributing to the programme. MSME vendors have a significant share in the AMS project. "It's is a huge plus for us. It augurs well for all future projects we undertake," says Nataraj.

Different Akash versions

The Air Force version is built around trailers hauled by prime movers and the Army version uses BEML-Tatra vehicles for higher mobility in all terrains.

"This necessitated re-engineering. However, basically the concepts are the same. Certain modifications in electronics have been made as desirable improvements," he says.
The first regiment of Army is nearing completion and the second one would be completed ahead of schedule by mid 2016. At the show, BEL is exhibiting the Army version of AMS.

About AMS

Akash Missile System was developed as part of the IGMDP (Integrated Guided Missile Development Programme); initiated by DRDO under Dr A P J Abdul Kalam's command.

Various labs under DRDO and few Industry partners like BEL, BDL and Ordnance Factories were roped in for the programme. DRDO labs including DRDL, LRDE, RCI, and R&DE (E) have worked in tandem with the Industry partners.
The successful trials of prototype AMS was done in 2007. Agni and Prithvi are other successful star performers from the IGMDP block.

(Make in India Watch [MI2Watch] is a series on OneIndia focusing on the aerospace and defence might of India's private and domestic industries. It will also aim at capturing the voices of leaders spearheading various projects.)

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