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Friday, 24 June 2016

From Today's Papers - 24 Jun 2016

Not So Good going on NSG
Opposition from multiple nations as Modi pushes case with China
Simran Sodhi

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
India made the final push for its entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Tashkent today. While Modi asked Jinping to “make a fair and objective assessment of India’s application”, the news coming from Seoul, where a special session of the NSG is being held to discuss India's membership, was not that positive.

Apart from China, which has been vocal about its opposition, Brazil, New Zealand, Ireland and Turkey were also not welcoming about India’s induction into the elite nuclear club. Most of these nations have expressed reservations about India not being a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The special session of the NSG, which began post-dinner in Seoul, concluded without reaching any decision on India’s membership. The discussions will continue tomorrow when a final call on India’s candidature can be expected.

Meanwhile, Pakistan made sure that it was not left behind in the game for the NSG membership and its President Mamnoon Hussain also met Jinping in Tashkent today. According to a press note issued by the Pakistan foreign ministry, both leaders discussed the issue of Pakistan's entry into the NSG.

Pakistan has been consistently saying if an exception can be made for India, it should also be allowed to join the NSG. Both India and Pakistan have not signed the NPT. Hussain told Jinping that “any exception given for NSG membership could disturb strategic stability in South Asia”.

The meeting between Modi and Jinping lasted for about 45 minutes. The Ministry of External Affairs said most of the meeting was devoted to this issue and Modi told Jinping that “China should contribute to the emerging consensus in Seoul”. The Chinese side did not come out with any details of the meeting and made no comments on what had been the response of Jinping to the Modi's request.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar led a team of officials in Seoul, lobbying for India's candidature. Despite the US, the UK, France and Switzerland backing the India's bid, the going has been tough for India.

While China's opposition was always known, what might come as a shock to many here is the resistance being put up by smaller countries. India, in a bid to woo many of these nations, had sent senior diplomats of the foreign ministry to these countries so as to address their concerns.

For now, the suspense continues as discussion will resume in Seoul tomorrow morning on India’s bid for the NSG membership. The final outcome will then seal the deal for India—one way or the other.
Can’t give ‘lame excuses’ for project delays: DRDO chief
Kolkata, June 23
As it faces flak for delays in executing defence projects, the state-run DRDO chief today said it couldn’t give “lame excuses” and that the reasons for the hold-up were being explained to the government.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) at the same time said it was not only ready to compete with foreign companies, but also to export products in the wake of the FDI reforms unveiled in the defence sector.

On Monday, the government announced the opening up of the defence sector by allowing foreign companies to own up to 100 per cent equity.

When asked at a news conference about the repeated delays in the execution of various projects by the DRDO, its Director General S Christopher said when those programmes and projects were taken up they never realised the complexity.

“If I have said seven years (for delivering a product), then at the end of seven years someone will knock at my door. So that is the problem of miscalculation of number of years,” he said.

The second issue, he noted, was that during the gestation period the requirement of the defence forces sometimes increases and therefore the product development takes more time.

“A new product takes a lot of time (to develop) even in other countries. When you take submarines, it takes not less than three decades. Air-borne air-warning system has taken not less than 15 years even in the US. We are also in a similar situation,” he said.

“These are areas where we are stuck. We can’t give lame excuses. We are explaining these to the government,” he said.

The DRDO, functioning under the Ministry of Defence, undertakes design and development of products and technologies to suit the requirement of the three wings of the Indian armed forces. “There may be a possibility when a big company with 100 per cent FDI comes with its technology and gives us competition. We are raring to go for the competition,” he said.

On the government’s thrust on “Make in India”, Christopher said it was a bonanza as far as DRDO was concerned. — PTI
Parrikar likely to approve purchase of artillery guns
Ajay Banerjee

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 23
In what will be the first major weapon purchase aimed at bolstering the upcoming Mountain Strike Corps of the Army, the Ministry of Defence is expected to approve the purchase of 145 artillery guns specially meant for deployment in the Himalayas.

The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, is scheduled to meet on Saturday to take a final call on the purchase of the 155mm M777 ultra-light howitzer (ULH). It will also decide on new warships carrying deadly missiles. It will also discuss the issue of having the ‘midget’ submarines used for special operations under the sea.

The cost negotiation with BAE Systems for the supply of 145 guns is complete and the deal is expected to be signed at price between $725 million and $740 million. This will be the main ground-based weapon for the Mountain Strike Corps. The BAE has further tied up with Mahindra to make 50 per cent of the guns in India.

BAE Systems will be asked to start deliveries within six months after signing the contract. In May last year, the DAC had approved the purchase of the ULH, which was originally proposed in 2008. Made of titanium, each gun weighs 4,000 kg, making it transportable by CH-47 Chinook helicopters, C-17 Globemaster and the C-130 Hercules aircraft or by trucks to ensure increased mobility in the mountains.

In case of the warships, the Navy will be setting six missile carrying vessels that will replace the 1980’s design Soviet-era ships of this type. These will carry the BrahMos, surface-to-air missiles, medium-range guns, and close-in weapons systems. It will cost Rs 13,000 crore (approx).

Also, the DAC will approve the installation of the 300-km range BrahMos missile on six warships, three of the Delhi class and three of the Talwar class. It will cost Rs 2,700 crore.

The DAC will also decide on buying 44,000 automatic hand-held carbines for the Army. An Israeli company has emerged as the top bidder following trials.
'Pocket Battleships' Part Of Navy's Mega-Growth Plans
On a day when the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told Armed Forces commanders to focus on India's 'Look East' policy by stepping up joint exercises with friendly countries in South East Asia, details have emerged of plans to significantly expand the Navy's war-fighting capability.

On Saturday, the Defence Acquisition Committee of the Ministry of Defence is expected to review and clear proposals worth nearly Rs. 29,000 crore for a host of new generation warships, upgrades and Naval fighting systems.
Among the most significant, is a proposal to construct an all-new class of six next-generation missile boats in India, which, once completed, will be among the most powerful vessels of their class in the world. The 1,250-ton 'pocket battleships' are to be armed with Brahmos anti-shipping missiles which can strike targets at sea and on land 300 kilometres away.

The boats, which will replace the Navy's ageing Prabal class missile-boats, will also be equipped with surface to air missiles, close-in-weapon-systems to intercept hostile missiles, a main gun and point defence guns to counter threats, potentially from terrorists operating in small fast boats. They will be built in India and with the project likely to cost Rs. 13,000 crores.
Heavily armed for their size, the missile boats follow a recent trend of modern Navies building a new generation of small missile armed ships. In October last year, the Russian Navy launched 26 missiles from four small frigates and corvettes in the Caspian Sea to strike ISIS targets more than 1,500 kilometres away.

The Indian Navy, for its part, has long favoured small missile boats. In the 1971 war against Pakistan, an Indian variant of the 245 ton Russian designed Osa class missile boats caused widespread destruction on Pakistani shipping in and around Karachi harbour in the first use of anti-ship missiles in combat in the region. This was only the second time in Naval warfare that anti-ship missiles had been used successfully in combat. So successful was Operation Trident as it was known, that the Navy celebrates Navy Day every year on December 4 to mark the occasion.

Other than missile boats, the Navy is set to significantly upgrade its legacy Delhi class destroyers and the relatively new Talwar class frigates with the made-in-India Brahmos missile, significantly expanding their offensive firepower. The existing weaponry of less-capable Klub anti-ship missiles which currently equip the Delhi and Talwar class may be transferred to older warships though these plans are still being finalised. The deal to upgrade these warships will cost 2700 crores which will include the entire Brahmos missile complex including practice missile rounds.

Significantly, the Navy wants to upgrade its ability to carry out clandestine operations by its Marine Commandos who will now be equipped with two Special Operations Vehicles (SOV), essentially mini-submarines, to be built at Hindustan Shipyards Limited in Visakhapatnam. Each SOV will embark three swimmer delivery vehicles (SDV) to be used by specialist divers in commando operations. This project is worth Rs. 2000 crores.

As part of its overall blue-water plans, the Navy sees fleet support ships as an essential force-multiplier giving it the ability to operate far away from Indian shores. To this end, Hindustan Shipyards Limited and Hyundai Heavy Industries of South Korea have been in talks for the construction of five Fleet Support Ships in India worth Rs. 9000 crores. It is unclear at this stage if the deal will involve a government to government deal between India and South Korea or will be negotiated between the two companies involved.

Finally, the Navy plans to acquire five diving support craft in a Make-in-India proposal for 150 crores to replace its elderly vessels.

Naval ship-building is an area of strength in India and the biggest success-story of this government's Make in India plans in the defence sector. For decades India has been designing and manufacturing the ships it needs from its own aircraft carriers to nuclear submarines.
Indian army team completes mountain cycling expedition

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