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Sunday, 27 March 2016

From Today's Papers - 27 Mar 2016

Rafale talks to restart, French negotiators _arrive on March 29
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 23
Two months after India and France disagreed on the pricing of the 36 Rafale fighter jets, the two sides are set to re-start negotiations on the issue.

India, in January this year, did not accept the price quoted by Rafale manufacturers—Dassault Aviation. The company was asked to come up with a fresh quote on pricing. Sources said French negotiators would reach New Delhi on March 29.

Within the Ministry of Defence, a benchmark figure has been decided upon and in no way this can be changed. Sources said the benchmark was close to $7 billion (Rs 46,000 crore, as on today’s dollar rates). Anything beyond that would be impossible to justify within the country.

During the three-day visit of French President Francois Hollande in January, a memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed as the first step towards signing a formal inter-governmental agreement (IGA). Only the pricing had to be decided. Specific aspects were discussed on reducing the price, a top functionary said.

Last-minute efforts to ink the IGA for the purchase of jets during Hollande’s visit had come to a naught as New Delhi was not happy with the pricing.

The French President was quoted as having cited a figure of $9 billion for 36 jets, including two types of missiles (air-to-ground and air-to-air), training of pilots, bombs and base facilities for planes. It would translate into Rs 59,000 crore or Rs 1,630 crore per piece. Indian negotiators are willing to pay around $7 billion or Rs 46,000 crore (Rs 1,180 crore per piece).

The IAF is now at its lowest combat strength in more than a decade. The IAF has informed the government of the gravity of the situation.

The IAF, with only 33 squadrons (16-18 planes in each), is nine short of the government mandated 42 squadrons needed to tackle a simultaneous two-front war with China and Pakistan.
US financed my Pak trip once: Headley
Mumbai, March 23
Pakistani-American terrorist David Headley today said the US had once financed his trip to Pakistan and also claimed that he had “donated” about Rs 70 lakh to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) till 2006, two years before the Mumbai attacks.

The 55-year-old terrorist, who was cross-examined via a video link from the US, told the court that after his arrest in 1998, “The Drug Enforcement Authority (DEA) of the US financed my trip. I was in contact with DEA then, but it is not true that between 1988 and 1998 I was providing information or assisting DEA”.

Headley, who is serving a 35-year jail term in the US and has turned approver in the 26/11 case, contradicted reports that he had received money from the LeT.

“I never received money from LeT... this is complete nonsense. I gave funds to LeT myself. I had donated more than 60 to 70 lakh Pakistani Rupees to LeT,” Headley told the court.

Headley refused to answer questions about his wife Shazia to whom he had disclosed about his links with LeT. — PTI
India, Pak armies exchange sweets on Pakistan Day
Indian and Pakistani troops on Wednesday exchanged sweets at several border points along LoC in Jammu and Kashmir on the occasion of Pakistan Day.

"On the occasion of Pakistan Day on March 23, troops of India and Pakistan exchanged sweets at Mendhar and Chakan- Da- Bagh.

In keeping tune with the high ethos of Indian Army, sweets were exchanged by both sides on the occasion", Defence Spokesman said.

The exchange of sweets on religious festivals and days of historical significance is part of the confidence building measures between the two sides and shall go a long way in promoting harmony and bonhomie along the Line of Control, he said.

The event is testimony to the good-will generated between the two sides to ensure everlasting peace on the Line of Control, he added.

TATRA TRUCKS to Introduce TATRA FORCE Series at DEFEXPO 2016, India
The Indian Armed Forces operate more than 10,000 TATRA vehicles and is historically one of the largest users of TATRA vehicles in the world. The TATRA FORCE series stands out with its unprecedented terrain manoeuvrability, including fording up to 1.5m, reliability, ability to drive in both extremely low and high outside temperature, easy operation and long service cycle. The new vehicle series could therefore mean a certain evolution step in terms of TATRA all-wheel-drive vehicles currently operated in India, ranging from 4x4 up to 12x12 versions.

Between 2003 and 2012, 3,925 assembly kits were delivered to India, where they were completed and coupled with different superstructures according to needs and requirements of Indian Armed Forces. Because of the problems associated with unlawful acts of former major Indian stakeholder of TATRA, R. Rishi, all deliveries from the Czech Republic to India were stopped. A major breakthrough in the TATRA's return to Indian market occurred after the change of ownership structure of the TATRA company in 2013 when it has been bought by Czech shareholders. Additionally, in February 2015, TATRA TRUCKS representatives signed a memorandum with Indian state enterprise BEML, which, on behalf of Indian Armed Forces, carries out final completion of the vehicles delivered in the form kits for assembly - CKD sets.

Last year, TATRA TRUCKS under the new ownership and new management delivered 100 vehicles to India, mostly in the form of complete knocked down (CKD) sets . Also, TATRA TRUCKS subsidiary TATRA India has been established in order to develop after-sales services in the region. Because of the customer's satisfaction, proved top-quality of TATRA vehicles and last but not least, exceptional properties and universality of use of their vehicles in demanding Indian conditions, TATRA TRUCKS' plan for 2016 is to deliver at least 250 vehicles in different states of readiness for the final assembly.
Ashok Leyland and Lockheed to develop combat vehicles for Indian Army
India-based Hinduja Group's Ashok Leyland Defence Systems (ALDS) has entered a strategic alliance with Lockheed Martin to develop combat vehicles for the Indian Army.

The companies will support the Indian Army's light specialist vehicle (LSV) and light armoured multipurpose (LAM) vehicle programmes, which aim to modernise its fleet of legacy-protected vehicles.

Ashok Leyland managing director Vinod K Dasari was quoted by media sources as saying: "This partnership will not just further India's ambitions under the Make in India programme, but will help us provide robust, and meaningful solutions to armed forces across new domains and geographies.
Under the terms of the agreement, ALDS will serve as the prime contractor building the light specialist and armoured multipurpose vehicles on the base platforms of Lockheed's common vehicle next-generation (CVNG) programme.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control ground vehicles vice-president Scott Greene said: "Our CVNG is a proven and versatile multi-terrain vehicle currently in service around the world. We are excited about the opportunities that exist to offer the CVNG to India and beyond."

Work under the contract will be performed at an undisclosed facility of ALDS.
Under the terms of the agreement, ALDS will serve as the prime contractor building the light specialist and armoured multipurpose vehicles on the base platforms of Lockheed's common vehicle next-generation (CVNG) programme.

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control ground vehicles vice-president Scott Greene said: "Our CVNG is a proven and versatile multi-terrain vehicle currently in service around the world. We are excited about the opportunities that exist to offer the CVNG to India and beyond."

Work under the contract will be performed at an undisclosed facility of ALDS.
Pak probe team on way, protocols ready
NIA to accompany SIT to Pathankot
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KV Prasad

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 26
The Pakistan Special Investigation Team for the Pathankot attack, which reaches here tomorrow, will be given access to areas relevant to the crime, including the IAF air base.

Removing confusion over the issue of access following objections from the Ministry of Defence, it is learnt that officials of the National Investigation Agency, the lead probe body, will accompany the Pakistan team to Pathankot and question witnesses in its presence.

The team from Islamabad will be given access to all “areas relevant to the crime”, sources said, adding that it will be the NIA that will be talking to the witnesses. The witnesses should include senior Punjab Police officer Salwinder Singh and others who have already been summoned by the NIA.

The sources also said the NIA had determined the identity of the four terrorists who came in and details would be shared with the Pakistan probe team. The team would also be taken to the breach point from where these terrorists crossed over to reach Pathankot.

As a measure of caution, parts of the air base would be curtained, which should address concerns of the Ministry of Defence over allowing the Pakistan team inside. A briefing by the NIA is scheduled before the team heads to Pathankot on Tuesday.

India sees the move as a step to take cooperation with Pakistan to a new level. While the Foreign Secretary-level talks remain stalled since the  January attack, channels of communication on the issue remain open.
Calling Alpha, Bravo, Charlie: We got commands messed up
Dinesh Kumar in Chandigarh
The Indian armed forces are structured across 19 Commands, 17 of which are single service commands. The system of individual Service operational Commands is a legacy of the British. Successive governments haven't brought about changes in the defence management system. Modern warfare demands unified commands. All three Services will require a unified structure to create an interoperable integrated environment
Should a war break out with China or Pakistan, multiple single Service operational Commands belonging to the Army, Navy and the Air Force will be pressed into service with none of their Command HQ located in the same city. Also, an operational Command of one Service will have overlapping geographical jurisdiction with more than one Command of another Service. And, there will not be a centre-point of tri-Service coordination.

For example, a full-fledged conventional war with Pakistan will ensure the involvement of seven different operational Commands: 4 Army Commands, 2 Air Force (IAF) Commands and one Navy Command. The Army will activate the Udhampur-based Northern Command (looking after J&K), the Chandimandir-based Western Command (mainly Punjab), Jaipur-based South Western Command (mainly Rajasthan, part Gujarat) and the Pune-based Southern Command (part Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa).

The IAF will likely activate its New Delhi-based Western Air Command, which incidentally with its area of responsibility spread across J&K, Punjab and part of Rajasthan, has jurisdiction of the equivalent of more than two Army Commands: Northern, Western and part of Southwestern. The second Command the IAF may activate is the Gandhinagar-based Southwestern Air Command (area of responsibility is part of Rajasthan, Gujarat and Maharashtra) while the Navy will engage its Mumbai-based Western Naval Command in the Arabian Sea.

Each of these will likely take instructions from respective Service chiefs and coordinate with their respective Operations directorate in the absence of both a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) and a Joint Operations Directorate.

As is evident, none of the seven operational Commands are co-located which resultantly is expected to adversely impact on coordination in intelligence sharing, planning and execution in the fast-paced technology-intensive battlefield environment of the 21st century. Also, the number of Commands belonging to each service located along the India-Pakistan border differs; the geographical jurisdiction of various Commands of the three Services have little commonality, and in most cases, the Command of one Service either overlaps or is linked with two or more Commands of the other Service.

It will be a similar situation in the case of a war with China in which three Army Commands (Udhampur-based Northern Command, Lucknow-based Central and Kolkata-based Eastern) and three Air Force Commands (New Delhi-based Western, Allahabad-based Central and Shillong-based Eastern) will be engaged. In the high probability of a naval dimension to a future Sino-Indian war, also likely to be involved is the Navy's Vishakapatnam-based Eastern Command and the Port Blair-based Andaman and Nicobar Command, the latter being India's sole tri-Service Theatre Command, and whose commander-in-chief reports to the Chairman Chief of Staff Committee (COSC). In all, eight operational Commands will be involved.

Compare & contrast
Contrast the response to a Sino-Indian war with that of China, whose armed forces are structured across a total of just five joint theatre Commands. In the event of a conventional war with India, Beijing is expected to employ one theatre Command: the Chengdu-based Western Theatre Command. In case of a naval dimension, Beijing may employ the South China Fleet component of its Guangzhou-based Southern Theatre Command.

The system of individual Service operational Commands is a British legacy. India has only made either incremental or cosmetic changes since Independence. As a result, as of today the Indian armed forces are structured across a total 19 Commands, 17 of which are single service commands. (See box).

The other two are tri-Service Commands: the Andaman and Nicobar Command, a ‘geography-based’ Theatre Command established in October 2001 with headquarters in Port Blair, comprising a modest force level of an Army brigade, an IAF transport helicopter Unit, Naval patrol vessels and maritime reconnaissance aircraft and Coast Guard patrol vessels for the 572 island archipelago located about 1,200 km from the Indian mainland and barely 45 km and 180 km, respectively, from the southern tip of Myanmar’s Coco islands and the northern tip of Indonesia. They lie astride the western end of the Malacca Strait.

The second, the Strategic Forces Command (SFC), with HQ in New Delhi, is an ‘equipment-based’ Functional Command armed with nuclear missiles.

Least integrated
The Kargil Review Committee observed, "India is perhaps the only major democracy where the Armed Forces Headquarters is outside the apex governmental structure." In contrast to other major countries in the world, where the three Services are coordinated at the top under a CDS or equivalent, the three Services are not coordinated at the top and their respective Chiefs end up wearing three diverse hats: a 'staff hat' as the Chief of Staff, an 'operational hat' as the Commander-in-Chief and also a 'ceremonial hat'.

Around 70 countries, including major and medium military powers, have a Chief of Defence Staff  or equivalent. India, with the world’s fourth largest armed forces, is the only country of its size that doesn’t have the CDS.

The three Services are notionally coordinated in the institution of Chairman COSC, which, however, is a rotational post held by the senior most Service Chief as a mere figurehead with no operational resources and no command authority. He is only a coordinator for most tasks which are administrative and that also by a democratic process of agreement. Considering this, it is unclear how the Chairman COSC will operationally handle the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) in the event of a major military operation if the Commander-in-Chief of the ANC belongs to a Service other than that of the Chairman.

Parallel campaigns
Since Independence, war plans and procurement of equipment have been based on single Service appreciation and have involved overlaying the application of the other Service. Hence plans have been based more on creating a feeling of 'mutual cooperation' rather than based on a jointly appreciated integrated course of action. Be it strategic or tactical doctrines, training, equipment, procurement or logistics, each Service tends to operate almost in isolation.

The debate in India to appoint a CDS and create joint Services Commands dates back several decades. Politicians, bureaucrats and the armed forces continue to talk even though successive military engagements by India have exposed deficiencies.

The Sino-Indian War of 1962 was a disaster as has been recorded by several informed authors, including the still classified Henderson Brooks Report which was posted on the Internet in 2014 by Neville Maxwell, an Australian journalist and author of 'India's China War', a book that revealed the incompetence of India's key political and Army leadership of that time. It was also a war in which India did not utilise its air power and kept its fighter aircraft grounded despite the latter having the potential to make a difference considering that vintage Chinese aircraft had severe restrictions on payload capacity owing to their air bases being located on altitudes higher than 10,000 feet.

The 1965 India-Pak war was a case of utter lack of coordination between the Army and IAF, which again has been recorded in the Official War History and also several books authored by retired defence officers and other writers. The Army saw the role of the IAF more as an air artillery and lack of coordination led to IAF fighters killing Indian soldiers in friendly fire. The 1971 India-Pakistan War appeared relatively better coordinated. Even so, while speaking at the Defence Services Staff College soon after the 1971 War, Field Marshal Sam Hormusji Framji Jamshedji Manekshaw, who led the Army to victory, tellingly remarked that the area Commands in India were dysfunctional and needed to be reduced to joint Commands which would operate under a CDS.

Recent conflicts
During the 1987-89 IPKF or Indian Peace Keeping Operations (named Operation Pawan) in Sri Lanka, an Overall Force Commander (OFC) from the Army was appointment with component commanders subordinated to him from the Eastern Naval Command and the Southern Air Command. However, this worked in theory more than in practice. For, the Navy and IAF Commanders-in-Chief (C-in-C) responsible for providing forces declined to delegate command and instead got the component commanders designated as liaison officers with no role other than act as a via-media in the headquarters of the OFC and the C-in-C. In

As for the 1999 Kargil War, the differences between the Army and the IAF are well known. In one of its report, the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has noted that it was lack of synergy which caused difficulties to the armed forces.

Successive governments in India, irrespective of their political leaning, have rarely been pro-active in making changes in India's defence management system. Changes have been the consequences of disastrous events and surprises. And even then, the reforms have been reactive and marked more by incrementalism than radical reforms and initiatives to deal with threats.

Cosmetic changes
It took India's defeat in the 1962 War to make the government embark on modernising the armed forces which included raising 10 Army Mountain Divisions. Some incremental changes in India's defence management system have followed after the 1999 Kargil War. Drawbacks within the Army during the large scale mobilisation of troops after the December 2001 terror attack on Parliament led the Army to embark on a Cold Start Doctrine. In 2008, soon after the 26/11 terror attacks by Pakistani terrorists in Mumbai, embarrassing revelations of chinks in India's coastal security led the government to place the Coast Guard under the operational command of the Navy.

The 1980s witnessed some major acquisitions and modernisation — some as a pro-active measure and some as reaction to Pakistan's acquisitions.

The 1980s also witnessed the Indian armed forces embarking on unprecedented 'Out of Area' tri-service missions — Operation Pawan in Sri Lanka (1987-89) and Operation Cactus in the Maldives (1988). Towards the end of the decade, the Army was fighting an intensive proxy war with Pakistan in J&K after having earlier engaged in Operation Bluestar (1984, Amritsar).

India has increased its military ties with the US, Western Europe, nations in Southeast and East Asia and the Middle East. The country has also participaed in UN peace support operations. Clearly, the role of the Indian armed forces has expanded to new realms requiring a hard look at existing structures.

No Indian government has ever conducted a strategic defence review. The only exercise was the report prepared by the Kargil Review Committee  commissioned soon after the 1999 Kargil War. The findings of the committee, which essentially studied the sequence of events and made recommendations for the future, was tabled in Parliament in February 2000. It led the government to constitute a Group of Ministers (GoM) Committee in April 2000 to examine the changes that needed to be made in the national security structure.  The GoM Committee in turn constituted four Task Forces, each of which examined Defence Management, Border Management, Internal Security and Intelligence Reforms.

Among the recommendations made by the GoM were three key proposals: (i) Integration of the Services both with each other and with the Ministry of Defence (MoD); (ii) creation of a CDS as a single point military advice to the civil political executive; and (iii) creation of Joint Operational Commands.

The government ended up taking measures that were either cosmetic or incomplete. On integrating the Services with the MoD, the government did so with word play by introducing the nomenclature 'Integrated Headquarters of the Army" (and likewise for the Navy and the IAF). Thus the only integration lay in the word 'integrated' — a cosmetic measure, whereas what the recommendation suggested was appointment of officers from the Services to the MoD.

Then again, instead of appointing a CDS, the government took the half measure of creating a Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff or HQ IDS in October 2001. This is being headed by a Chief of Integrated Staff (CIS), a three star general, as an interim measure until a CDS was nominated pursuant to the Cabinet Committee on Security partially approving the GoM Committee recommendation. The HQ IDS works as a tri-Service secretariat to a non-existent CDS which remains elusive in the absence of any subsequent decision by three successive union governments formed since the report's preparation.

As for the third recommendation of making Joint Operation Commands, the government simply upgraded the Navy's Fortress Andaman and Nicobar (FORTAN), established in 1976, to the Andaman and Nicobar Command (ANC) with a full-fledged C-in-C to be headed by a Lieutenant General equivalent belonging to either of the three Services and reporting to the Chairman COSC. Thus, although a Theatre Command was created, it did not involve any major addition of resources; only a change in nomenclature with its C-in-C reporting to the Chairman COSC instead of to the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command as was being done in the past.

However, several years later the ANC has still not been fully integrated according to a report prepared by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence and it still remains dependent on the Eastern Naval Command for vessels and other weapon platforms and systems.
Defence strategy experts need of the hour, says ex-Army chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Indian universities should produce experts in defence strategic studies to guide military personnel not to repeat their old mistakes if any war is fought in the future. Former Army chief and Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Statistics and Programme Implementation (Independent Charge) Gen V K Singh stated this while addressing a seminar on ‘1962 War: an Appraisal’ at Panjab University here today. The event also marked the book release of “1962 The War That Wasn’t” by Shiv Kunal Verma.

Referring to the PU Defence Studies Department where courses related to the strategic studies was going on, he said such departments were the need of the hour. He said in other developed countries special departments were created by the government so that specialisation and analysis of history and wars of the country could be done to understand the loopholes. This was done so that their soldiers did not repeat such mistakes in future wars. But in India, defence studies meant what we learn in NCC and nothing else,

he said. During his address, he said those who did not learn from history suffered a lot in future.

Referring to the 1962 war, he appreciated the courage of the Indian soldiers and said they performed well but the defeat was due to political establishment and leadership at the top of the military which lacked in taking the right decision at the right time.

He stressed upon analysing the situation of 1962 war to learn what went wrong so that it should not be repeated by the military in the future.

Clarifying the myth that after Independence,  the military was keen to go on war to show their might to the neighbours, he said during the 1962 war, military was not taken into confidence by political heads before taking a final call on the war. The political establishment cheated the military by not actively consulting it.

Meanwhile, filmmaker and military historian Shiv Kunal Verma who authored the book “1962 The War That Wasn’t” mentioned that while signing the Panchsheel Agreement, India made concessions to China which was against the advice given by the military leadership.

PU VC Prof Arun Kumar Grover called upon the Department of Defence and National Security Studies to reach out to the military leadership and retired military officers and create a think tank.  Gen Kulwant Singh, Maj Gen Rajendar Nath, Brig Amarjit Singh Behl and Brigadier DK Khullar also shared their views.

The 1962 war veterans Maj Gen Rajendar Nath, Brigadier Amarjit Singh Behl and Brig DK Khullar were also present.

They were given standing ovation by the audience.
Headley videographed Indian army headquarter in 2009
Mumbai: Pakistani-American terrorist-turned-approver David Coleman Headley on Saturday said he recced the Indian Army Headquarter in New Delhi in March 2009 after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.

The stunning reply came in response to a specific question posed during his cross-examination by lawyer Abdul Wahab Khan, whether he (Headley) had recced the Vice-President of India`s house in New Delhi.

Denying that he surveyed the VIP residence, Headley revealed that he had recced and videographed the entire road between the Sena Bhawan - the Indian Army Hq - till the National Defence College (NDC), with the Vice-President`s House falling somewhere midway.

On February 12, during his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam, Headley had admitted that he visited the NDC campus once in 2007 at the instance of his Lashkar-e-Taiba handler, Sajid Mir, since the terror group Al-Qaeda felt it was "a good, high-value target".

On February 13, Headley revealed how, post-26/11, he had surveyed the NDC, Chabad Houses in Goa, Pushkar and Pune, besides the Indian Army`s Southern Command HQ in Pune (March 16-17, 2009) in an attempt by the Pakistan spy agency ISI to infiltrate the military establishment, recruit army officers and get `classified information` from them.

On Saturday, Headley revealed and elaborated about the survey and videography conducted of the entire high security route between Sena Bhavan and NDC, with the Vice-President`s house in-between, in the national capital.

He also said how he believed that the US, Israel and India were enemies of Islam, but denied that he wanted to restore `Islamic rule` in India.

Earlier in the day, Headley said though he was aware of the Thane college girl Ishrat Jahan episode through the newspapers, Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi had informed him about the `operation.`

He said he had informed India`s National Investigation Agency (NIA) about "a female member who had died in an encounter in India Ishrat Jahan" and other related things, but was clueless why the NIA did not record his statement accurately.

However, he admitted before Special Judge G.A. Sanap that he had "no personal knowledge about Ishrat Jahan" operation, on the last day of his cross-examination by lawyer Khan, who represents Sayed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal, one of the prime accused in the 26/11 Mumbai terror strikes.

Elaborating on his earlier stance, Headley said he did not tell NIA about Lakhvi informing him that the Ishrat Jahan module was a "botched-up operation" and claimed he `thought` it was a failure.

He said he had given details on various aspects to the NIA officials when they interrogated him in the US in July 2010, but his statements were not read out to him.

He did not seek a copy of his statement nor was it provided to him by the NIA, Headley said, raising serious doubts on the NIA statement.

Headley referred to certain statements he made to the NIA on LeT ex-commander Muzammil Bhatt and Ishrat Jahan who was killed in an encounter by Gujarat Police along with three other male aides near Ahmedabad in 2004.

He said that he had informed NIA that "Ishrat Jahan was an Indian and a LeT operative", but had no explanation why this was not recorded by the NIA.

Headley had first brought up Ishrat`s name, a 19-year girl studying in a Mumbai college in February during his examination-in-chief by Special Public Prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam. But on Friday, he said, the NIA had not prompted him in any manner to say her name.

He also claimed to have informed NIA that the LeT`s operations were spread all over India but concentrated in Maharashtra and Gujarat, which was not recorded by the NIA team.

The four-day cross-examination of Headley via video-conferencing from an undisclosed location in the US, by Khan ended here on Saturday afternoon.
Russia Offers Verba MANPADS to India

Verba is positioned to compete on the Indian Army requirement for Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) man-portable air defense (MANPAD) missile.
Pursuing the Indian requirement for a new very short range air defense weapon, the Russian arms exporter ‘Rosoboronexport’ debuts the latest Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) 9K333 “Verba” at DEFEXPO-2016. The new weapon entered service with the Russian Army in 2014. It was first unveiled in public last year at Arms 2015 expo in Moscow. According to the Russian arms exporter, it is making its international debut this week.

“We are confident that the Verba will provoke interest of Indian militaries and our partners in South East Asia and other regions,” Sergei Goreslavsky, deputy director general of JSC Rosoboronexport said. Goreslavsky expects that, despite the introduction of the new missile, demand for its predecessor, Igla-S, will remain stable since it satisfies the requirements of armies in many countries. In November 2015 the system’s manufacturer KBM Scientific Production Concern completed the delivery of Verba equipment under the first contract awarded in 2013, including four brigade sets for the Army and four division sets for airborne troops.

The missile uses a new tri-band optical seeker, along with modern avionics and improved warhead activated by an adaptive contact/proximity fuze. The missile also uses a new solid rocket motor and heavier explosive charge, compared to its Igla-S predecessor. The missile can hit targets that move at speeds up to 500 m/s, at a distance of more than six kilometres, at altitude from ten to 4,500 meters.

The MANPADS boasts of enhanced capability of engaging small-size targets with low thermal signatures such as cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Verba MANPADS can be also mounted on various land, maritime and airborne platforms. Joint employment of the 9M336 missiles of the Verba MANPADS, combat control set of equipment and launch modules makes it possible to build on their basis lightweight mobile close-in air defense missile systems, or to include these assets into existing air defence missile and artillery systems.

Verba is positioned to compete on the Indian Army requirement for Very Short Range Air Defence (VSHORAD) man-portable air defense (MANPAD) missile. The new missile looks like its predecessor, the Igla man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD) that is already used by Indian Army, but represents a major improvement in counter-countermeasures and engagement of small and illusive targets at low-level, such as cruise missiles, helicopters and drones.

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