Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Details of GRSE’s Small Anti-Submarine Corvette Emerge

A CGI rendition of GRSE's Anti-Submarine shallow water Corvette

The Indian Navy’s (IN) Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASWSWC) project of 16 hulls will be split evenly between two shipbuilders, Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) and Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE).

Each shipyard will build its own variant of a 700t waterjet-powered ASW corvette working to common IN-issued specifications. The ASWSWC is intended for coastal ASW missions, minelaying and maritime security operations within 200nm of the coastline.

While CSL revealed broad specifications of its variant earlier this year, details of GRSE’s ship emerged recently as it seeks vendors to perform basic design work and specialised engineering studies on the proposed design. Given their association with GRSE’s existing projects, Kockums/Saab, Naval Group and Fincantieri are likely contenders.

GRSE’s design has an overall length of 77m, beam of 10.5m and displaces about 750t. It has elements of the X-shaped hull form used in the Kamorta-class corvette.

CSL’s design is slightly shorter at 74m, and it has a beam of 10.5m and somewhat different topside arrangement with slab sides. Otherwise, performance figures and overall propulsion system configuration is similar to GRSE’s. Both have three diesel-driven waterjet units, a top speed of 25kt and range of 1,800nm at 14kt. They will be the biggest waterjet-powered vessels in the IN.

Combat systems include one ASW rocket launcher, two sets of torpedo tubes, small-calibre cannon, mine-laying rails, hull-mounted sonar and towed low-frequency variable-depth sonar. Given its ASW focus, signature management (particularly acoustic silencing) is expected to be a key feature.

An industry source familiar with the project noted that, while the IN would have preferred a common design, GRSE with its large in-house design team is ‘reluctant’ to do so and is pushing ahead with its own variant.

Earlier expectations from GRSE’s management for a contract signing by October did not materialise, but pre-production work is progressing.

Contractually, each shipbuilder is required to build and deliver eight hulls within 84 months. Delivery of the first hull is to be ‘within 42 months’ of contract signing, and subsequent hulls at six-monthly intervals.


India Has Assured Second-Strike Capability: Chief Naval Admiral Sunil Lanba


We have signed a contract with Russia for two of the Project 11356 class frigates and we will now sign a contract with GSL for the balance two that are to be made in India, says Sunil Lanba

by Manu Pubby

The Rafale controversy will have no bearing on the Indian Navy’s quest for 57 new fighter jets, said Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba. He said India is keeping an eye and “doing its bit” to tackle the increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region. Lanba spoke with Manu Pubby as 32 member-nations and observers of the Indian Ocean Naval Symposium gather in Kochi to mark its tenth anniversary. Excerpts:

How significant is the announced deterrence patrol of the INS Arihant nuclear missile submarine?

The PM has said it all and the only thing that I can say is that we have now demonstrated the sea vectors capability by doing the deterrence patrol. Our nuclear policy is of ‘no first use’ and the deterrence patrol has demonstrated that you have an assured second-strike capability.

There have been reports of increased Chinese presence in the Indian Ocean Region. How is this being countered by the Indian Navy?

Operationally at sea, the mission-based deployments, which we have been doing for over a year, have ensured that the entry and exit routes of the Indian Ocean Region—the choke points—are all being monitored. We have permanent presence now in many parts including the Mallaca Strait, the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea as well as the Bay of Bengal. So, our domain awareness has improved.

Have we been monitoring the presence of these assets in our region?

All deployments of Peoples Liberation Army (Navy) ships and submarines are being monitored. They are always being welcomed by us when they enter the region, so we know what is happening. India does not have the deep pockets that China has—they have spent a lot of money on infrastructure, including ports that are economically nonviable. We have seen their first overseas base in Djibouti and there has been a continuous deployment (in the Gulf of Aden) since 2008. The Indian government is working along with nations in the Indian Ocean Region, in Africa and in South Asia and there are a number of initiatives, from investments to line of credits. So, India as a nation is doing its bit.

A key part of the Indian Navy’s plans to ensure presence in the region has been the quest for a third aircraft carrier. Are those plans still on track?

The plan is still on track and we are working to take it forward to get in-principle approval for a second aircraft carrier (after the under construction INS Vikrant at Kochi). We have decided the form and fit—it will be a 65,000 ton CATOBAR (catapult assisted take off but arrested landing) carrier and will be conventionally powered. It is central to the Navy’s philosophy to have three aircraft carrier battle groups.

The Navy is also looking for 57 new fighter jets for its second aircraft carrier. Do you think the Rafale controversy will have a bearing towards this procurement? 

We should be able to issue the RFP (request for proposal) for this towards the end of 2019. And, I do not think that present occurrences should have any linkage to this at all.

The Navy has traditionally been at the forefront of ‘Make in India’ but the health of private sector shipyards has been a matter of concern. Is having the private sector sustainable, given the financial ill health of the Reliance Naval yard as well?

Over 200 ships have already been built in India for the Navy, from sea wards defence ships to the aircraft carrier that is under construction. We opened the sector to the private industry but, unfortunately for us, the shipping industry world over collapsed post 2007-08. So, two of the yards have gone bust—Bharti and ABG. The present lot of private yards are having their own financial challenges but we are very keen that there is participation from both the public and private sector yards in our shipbuilding programmes. We need them so that we can build our capability at a much faster rate and I wish that Reliance can sort out its issues.

On the strategic partnerships model for the private sector, how fast do you see the submarine programme progressing? Will Mazagon Dock and Shipbuilders Ltd (MDL) also be a part of the program?

The process itself has been approved and the specifics for the submarine segment have been drafted and will now come up for approval of the defence acquisition council. We are hopeful that the first among the strategic partnership programmes will be the Naval Utility Helicopters, for which we already have clearances. We are hopeful that the submarine segment will also get approved and we can take this forward. We would also like MDL to be one of the yards to be part of the submarine building programme as they have demonstrated capabilities.

Can you share updates on the plan to build minesweepers in India, as well as the two frigates to be constructed at the Goa Shipyard Ltd (GSL)?

We have signed a contract with Russia for two of the Project 11356 class frigates and we will now sign a contract with GSL for the balance two that are to be made in India. On the minesweepers, we think GSL should be able to issue a new expression of interest and we are hopeful that we will have a multi vendor situation this time.


Rafale Hearing In SC: Prashant Bhushan Says No Sovereign Guarantee From France In The Deal

Prashant Bhushan, Arun Shourie and Yashwant Sinha filed a complaint on Rafale deal on Oct 4

The advocate also said that the NDA government "short-circuited" the acquisition process by taking the Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) route to avoid giving tender

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Wednesday commenced its crucial hearing on pleas seeking a court-monitored probe into the procurement of 36 Rafale fighter jets from France.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices S K Kaul and K M Joseph is also likely to peruse the pricing details of the jets submitted by the government in a sealed cover.

During the hearing, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing on behalf of himself, and former union ministers Yashwant Sinha and Arun Shourie submitted that the NDA government "short-circuited" the acquisition process by taking the Inter-Government Agreement (IGA) route to avoid giving tender.

He said there was no sovereign guarantee from the French government in the deal.

Bhushan argued that initially the Union Law Ministry had flagged the issue, but later gave in to the proposal of entering into the IGA.

The Air Force needed 126 fighter jets and had intimated the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) about it, he said referring to the process of defence acquisition.

Initially, six foreign companies had applied and two firms were shortlisted during the earlier process.

Later the deal went to French firm Dassault and state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd was part of it. But, suddenly a statement was issued and it said there will be no technology transfer, and only 36 jets would be procured, the lawyer told the court.

Bhushan submitted that nobody knows about the alleged change in the deal done by the Prime Minister and even the Defence Minister was not aware of the change.

Advocates M L Sharma, Vineet Dhanda and AAP MP Sanjay Singh, also advanced their arguments before Bhushan.

Sharma, who opened the argument, told the court that the IGA was "illegal" and sought an investigation into the matter.

Dhanda sought a proper reply from the Centre on his plea questioning the Rafale deal.

AAP leader's counsel Dheeraj Singh questioned as to why the government reduced the deal of 126 jets to 36.

He said the government should have increased the number of jets when there was a concern that adversaries were inducting more fighter jets.

Bhushan also raised the same point as Singh and said three and a half years have passed since the deal was signed on 36 Rafale jets but no aircraft has been received till now.

He said the first jet is to be delivered in September 2019 and delivery to continue till 2022.

"If the 126 aircraft deal was still on, at least 18 jets would have been delivered by April 2019," he submitted.

The hearing is currently underway in the top court.

The petitions in the matter have been filed by advocates M L Sharma, Vineet Dhanda.

Later, AAP MP Sanjay Singh had also filed a petition.

Former Union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan also filed a joint petition.


Pakistan Leader Threatens Nuclear War Against India Over Kashmir Issue


President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir Sardar Masood Khan said Indian obstinacy on the Kashmir issue could bring both nuclear-armed states to the brink of another devastating war

Muzaffarabad: President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK), Sardar Masood Khan, on Tuesday made a threatening statement against India by saying that Indian “obstinacy on the Kashmir issue” could trigger a nuclear war in South Asia.

“India and Pakistan have fought three wars over Kashmir and Indian obstinacy on the Kashmir issue, along with inhuman atrocities in Kashmir and Indian shelling on the civilian population living along the Line of Control (LoC) could bring both nuclear-armed states to the brink of another devastating war,” Khan threatened.

There is no possible military solution to the Kashmir issue and India will have to initiate dialogues with Pakistan to find a ‘peaceful’ resolution to this conflict, he said.

Speaking to a delegation of 48th Pakistan Navy Staff Course participants in Muzaffarabad, Khan said Pakistan always sought peaceful resolution on Kashmir through dialogues but India “is adamant to settle the issue through military might by suppressing the voice of Kashmiri people for their internationally recognized right to self-determination”.

“It is high time for the United Nations Secretary-General to take a step forward and appoint a special representative to explore a viable solution to the conflict of Kashmir and to ensure peace and stability in the region,” he said.

“The United Nations and world powers need to intervene in setting a stage for the resolution of Kashmir before the two nuclear states of India and Pakistan indulge in a full-fledged war which will be a monumental disaster that will engulf not only the region but large part of the world,” Khan emphasised.

Khan went on a further verbal assault on India’s laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Public Safety Act (PSA) and called them ‘draconian’, alleging that our laws give impunity to the Indian army in Kashmir, so much so that “an Indian soldier can shoot to kill any at will and he will not be accountable to anybody or any agency for prosecution”.


IAF Will Get First Rafale Jets In September 2019: Dassault CEO Eric Trappier


Dassault CEO has categorically rubbished kickback allegations made by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi

Istres-Le Tube Airbase: Dassault Aviation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eric Trappier has said that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will get the first delivery of Rafale fighter jets in September 2019 as per the contract. 

The Dassault top executive said that ''the delivery is totally in time.''

Trappier said this in an exclusive interview to ANI during which he categorically rubbished kickback allegations made by Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier alleged that the Dassault CEO lied about the details of the Dassault- Reliance Joint Venture (JV) for offset contracts in the Rafale fighter Jet deal.

"I don't lie. The truth I declared before and the statements I made are true. I don't have a reputation of lying. In my position as CEO, you don't lie," Trappier said when asked to respond to Rahul Gandhi's charge that Dassault was covering up for possible cronyism in awarding the offset deal to Anil Ambani-led Reliance Group.

In a press conference on November 2, Rahul had alleged that Dassault invested Rs 284 crore in a loss-making company promoted by Anil Ambani which was used to procure land in Nagpur. 

"It is clear the Dassault CEO is lying. If an inquiry starts on this PM Modi is not going to survive it. Guaranteed," he added.

Trappier said that they had prior experience dealing with the Congress party and the comments made by the Congress president made him sad.

"We have a long experience with the Congress party. Our first deal was with India in 1953 with Nehru and other Prime Ministers. We have been working with India. We are not working for any party. We are supplying strategic products like fighters to the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Indian Government. That is what is most important," said Trappier.

When pressed further for the reason behind Dassault`s choice of Reliance as an offset partner which had no experience in manufacturing fighter jets, Trappier clarified that the money being invested was not going to Reliance directly but in a Joint Venture (JV) that included Dassault.

"We are not putting the money in Reliance. The money is going into the JV. I put my know-how free of charge on how to produce people. I have engineers and workers from Dassault who are taking the lead as far as the industrial part of this deal is concerned. At the same time, I have an Indian company like Reliance who is putting money into this JV as they want to develop their country. So the company is going to know how to produce aircraft," Trappier said.

Trappier clarified further about the investments being made by Dassault, adding that Reliance would match the amount since the shareholding pattern is 49% Dassault and 51% Reliance as per prescribed Government norms.

"We are supposed to put in this company together about Rs 800 crore as 50:50. For the time being, to start work in the hangar and to pay workers and employees, we have already put Rs 40 crore. But it will be increased to Rs 800 crore, which implies Rs 400 crore by Dassault in the coming five years," said Trappier.

It is to be noted that the Rahul Gandhi's party has launched an all-out attack on the Narendra Modi government alleging widespread corruption in awarding the contract to Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence as the offset partner of the French defence manufacturer.

The Congress party has Rafale deal as the country's biggest defence scam till date.

On its part, the Narendra Modi government has dismissed all allegations of favouritism and corruption and said that the Rafale deal was finalised within the legal framework.

As directed by the Supreme Court, the Centre also recently submitted the details, including the price of the Rafale jets, in a sealed cover to the top court.


Rafale Uninterrupted: Amid The Billowing Smoke And Mirrors


There is a constant barrage of information on Rafale coming out from time to time, and that’s because it’s real

It has truly become ‘Rafale Uninterrupted’ with the constant barrage of information coming out from time to time, and that’s because it’s real: the truth though shall not come out unless the apex court puts its foot down and digs deep – very deep. The government will do its damnedest to obfuscate: the procurement process; the price; the technical cant shrouding in the name of secrecy; the much hyped hands-off approach on choice of Indian offset Partners (IoP), et al. And the canon bursts shall go on endlessly.

The reason for non-disclosure is simple: it was a flawed procurement and shouldn’t have happened in the first place. But it did – in the hallucinating high of post-2014 electoral euphoria when the sense of propriety was subordinated to grandstanding and optics. If the earlier government fumbled, so it seems to declaim to the wide world, we aren’t the kind to repeat that. Thereby the procedural solecism was seeded. What else can explain the then Raksha Mantri (RM) being completely unaware of the Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) announcement? Neither the allocation/transaction of business rules permits such transgression/arrogation of power by the PM in a constitutional democracy governed by the rule of law, nor does the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) 2013, then in vogue, so permits. The rest that followed were mere dressing-up and playing to the IGA diktat.

Why the PM’s advisors let him indulge in such bravado is another question. Why even later no one stood up and said that it wasn’t the way to go. The reason again is simple: no one could dare, and in any case it was bound to fail with the darer very likely heaved off his perch. Today, any mid-course correction will impugn the government’s much-vaunted machismo. It’s a Frankenstein’s monster ready to swallow its creator.

Shorn of dialectics, the government may not be the “matchmaker” but doubtless it midwifed the deal. Purists may take umbrage over the parsing of the words but the brouhaha over the deal is understandable. Defence expenditure accounts for 15-18% of the total central budgetary outlay. The geo-strategic concerns coupled with lack of domestic industry manufacturing state-of-the-art arms and armaments, equipment and weapon systems, has meant regular import of defence items from abroad – to modernise, and to maintain its present lot of weapon suites.

It’s ironical that the Rafale deal was consecrated on the altar of DPP 2016 whose Preamble declaims the “highest standards of transparency, probity and public accountability, a balance between competing requirements such as expeditious procurement, high quality standards and appropriate costs needs to be established”; and where “self-reliance is a major corner-stone on which the military capability of any nation must rest”; and focuses on giving “a boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government of India, by promoting indigenous design, development and manufacturing of defence equipment, platforms, systems and sub-systems.”

Ironically, these very issues – costs, transparency, public accountability – are missing. While admittedly defence acquisition isn’t a standard open market off-the-shelf procurement like others, given its inherent technological complexity and geo-political ramifications, let it be said that nothing in the cost imperils security concerns. This is but only one aspect.

But it’s hard to fathom the rationale of this IGA that often arises out of geo-strategic advantages. The earlier 126 MMRCA negotiations had coasted along for 7-years with two companies (Dassault and Eurofighter) shortlisted and the deal nearly finalised with Dassault, with HAL as the IoP. Where, then, was the need to “not classically follow the Standard Procurement Procedure and the Standard Contract Document” but base it on “mutually agreed provisions between the Governments… on an Inter-Governmental Agreement after clearance from CFA”? The IGA announcement by the PM on 10th April 2015 was a tectonic shift with the then RM unaware and the clearance from CFA missing. What prompted the IGA? This is where the Rafale procurement gets problematic and raises multiple concerns.

The CEO Dassault Trappier on March 25, 2015 said that the negotiation for 126 Rafale aircrafts – 18 in flyaway condition from France and 108 HA-manufactured as part of Transfer of technology (ToT) to India – had been almost finalised. Another contemporaneous development was the creation of the Reliance Defence Enterprise Limited company on March 28, 2015 that has now replaced HAL as Dassault’s IoP to discharge the whopping offset obligations.

Seen through the prism of DPP 2016, the two issues – whittling down the requirement of 126 Rafale aircraft to 36; and RDEL replacing HAL as IoP – strike at the very root of propriety and transparency touted as the government’s USP on procurement from taxpayers’ money. The fact is that none of the three conditions on IGA cited in Para 104 (a), (b), (c) of DPP 2016 needed bolstering. Neither did the IAF identify any need “while participating in joint international exercises”, nor was it “a very large value weapon system/platform… (not) available for transfer or sale”. Nor had the OEM’s government “imposed restriction on its sale” and couldn’t be evaluated on ‘No Cost No Commitment’ basis. Further, Para 6 of Appendix A to Chapter II [referring to Para 3(c) and Para 16 of Chapter II of DPP 2016)] on the Defining attributes of the ‘Buy (Global)’ category inter alia states that when the requirement is of strategic nature and/or of long term nature and “more than one foreign vendors from different countries can provide equipment system platform” it may be ensured to “Include ToT/MToT as necessary”. The Note adds that: ToT in Buy (Global) category cases is essentially to provide the buyer with leverage during negotiations or even post contract stages.

The IGA was hence entirely unwarranted; there was no justification, no need, no necessity for the same. The logic trotted out later is an afterthought – flawed to the core, because it is invalid. What’re the ostensible benefits that the IGA bestows which the earlier proposal didn’t? An IGA announced, by the Head of Government, with the intent to buy 36 Rafale aircraft in flyaway condition is a diplomatic commitment to be honoured. While an IGA isn’t impermissible, what’s surprising is the timing, the culling of the earlier negotiated quantity, with ToT missing, and sans due diligence, and with the IoP changed from an experienced, bespoke DPSU to a fledgling, no-experience, financially-troubled private company.

Blitz through the timelines post-IGA announcement, corral the acts, join the dots and the picture raises still more concerns. On April 24, 2015 the Reliance Defence Ltd. forms a subsidiary company called Reliance Aerostructure Ltd; on July 30, 2015 MoD scraps the earlier deal that was 7 years in the making and had reached finality by early 2014 – a year since the new government had taken charge – to make way for the IGA-inspired deal; on August 5, 2015 amendment in offset guidelines brings in benefits for Dassault to give its IoP details at a later date than at the time of contract-signing. The government allows 49% FDI through automatic route in June 2016, meaning no need for prior approval for investing in India’s defence sector, thereby facilitating formation of a joint venture, DRAL, in October 2016 by Reliance Aerostructure Ltd. (51%) and Dassault Aviation (49%). The CCS accords approval on August 24, 2016 and the IGA signs the agreement on September 23, 2016. The telltale marks seem remarkably, even divinely, ordained!

Yet amid the cacophony, few procurement fundamentals need highlighting. When must an IGA be signed: at the initial stage so that the seller dictates terms on the buyer; or after negotiations so that the buyer achieves the most economical purchase? Box this with the 7-year long efforts and the number of aircrafts, and the ToT terms. Not to ignore that an IGA grants pricing advantage via its sovereign guarantee by doing away with the bank guarantee liability that the seller loads in its offer. Did the IGA-inspired deal benefit from this? No answer is forthcoming.

The writer is retired financial adviser (defence services) in the defence ministry. Views are personal


Rafale Deal Pricing Details To Be Examined By Supreme Court Today


The government filed the pricing details of the Rafale jets in a sealed cover in Supreme Court

New Delhi: The sensitive pricing details of the 36 Rafale fighter jets, submitted by the centre in a sealed cover, is scheduled to be examined by the Supreme Court today. A bench comprising Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices SK Kaul and KM Joseph will hold a crucial hearing in the case during which the petitioners, who have sought a court-monitored investigation into the deal, will also make submissions.

The Centre had on Monday handed over a 14-page document titled "Details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order" to the petitioners in the case.

The government had also filed in the court in a sealed cover the pricing details of the Rafale jets.

The petitioners are likely to respond to the contents of the documents in which it has been stated by the government that the deal for 36 Rafale jets were negotiated on "better terms" and the Defence Procurement Procedure laid out in 2013 were "completely followed".

The centre has also said the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) approval was secured before the deal was inked with France.

The details of the decision-making process and pricing were placed in the court in compliance with its October 31 order.

India signed an agreement with France for the purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft in a fly-away condition as part of the upgrading process of the Indian Air Force equipment. The estimated cost of the deal is Rs. 58,000 crore.

The Rafale fighter is a twin-engine Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) manufactured by French aerospace company Dassault Aviation.

The petitions seeking the probe in the Rafale deal were first filed by advocates Manohar Lal Sharma and Vineet Dhanda.

Later, AAP lawmaker Sanjay Singh had also filed a petition.

Former union ministers Yashwant Sinha, Arun Shourie and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan had also filed a joint petition in the Supreme Court.


Flight of Fancy


The grim reality which a majority of Indians may not even be aware of is the Indian Air Force is desperate for fighter aircraft

by Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Happy is the nation without a history,” said Cesare Beccaria, the 18th century Italian criminologist, jurist and philosopher, also considered as father of modern criminal law and criminal justice. Why and in which context Beccaria made the statement, with what ramifications, cannot be guesstimated. Nevertheless, how about creating another set of soundalike sentences? Happy are the nations with a rival without craft. Or, unhappy is the air force in endless search for an aircraft.

Sounds cynical? May be. May be not, though, if dispassionately looked at from the ‘other side of the hill’ with reference to the plight, not flight, of ace fliers of the Indian Air Force and their senior commanders who are getting a mouthful from some eminent armchair experts whose knowledge of combat aircraft, technical features and their operational role emanates primarily from (over)hearing is believing rather than seeing and doing is believing, and who may not even be able to differentiate between aircraft and a rotor-craft. Virtually all of them operate from the cool comfort of their office cabin, club bar, centre's lounge, golf course or other old boys’ watering holes in Lutyens’ land, which has seen a steady growth of ‘healthy convention’ to allow the high and mighty to first loot and then scoot over the past few decades.

Understandably, owing to this highly favourable ambience of India’s internal situation, grew the adversarial activities of two of India’s neighbours, China and Pakistan. We can, therefore, only observe with concern their aggressive march to "fighter aircraft modernisation and upgradation" in comparison with India and express regret for the monumental failure and incompetence of our vaunted civilian rulers consisting of India’s politico-bureaucracy in defence preparedness.

The situation is so bad and disheartening that one is compelled to quote from internationally accepted credible sources to point out the grim reality which a majority of Indians may not even be aware of, because traditionally a section of the ruling class detested the idea of the people of the country being aware of what the nation is facing. Thus, according to Military Balance 2005-2006, published by International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London, India had 38 squadrons of fighter aircraft out of which 852 aircraft were combat capable. Pakistan had 13 squadron fighters with 331 aircraft combat capable and China 119 regiments (a squadron is known as regiment in China) with 2,643 aircraft combat capable.

In 2009 the same Military Balance of IISS showed that the IAF fleet came down to 29 squadrons with 603 combat capable aircraft. Pakistani Air Force strength, on other hand, went up to 15 squadrons with 383 combat capable fighters and China initiated fleet modernisation, discarding the old and inducting new state-of-art fighters, reducing the number of regiments to 58 with 1,653 combat capable aircraft.

Six years later, Military Balance 2015 revealed that the IAF improved its number of squadrons to 37 with 881 combat capable fighters. Pakistani Air Force too increased combat capable aircraft to 450, though there was no change in number of 15 squadrons. The Chinese, however, once again made impressive progress in their capability as PLA Air Force regiments went up from 58 to 60 and the number of combat capable aircraft too jumped from 1,653 to 2,239.

The crisis year, therefore, had to arrive in 2018, with disaster waiting to happen, for the IAF. Military Balance 2018 clearly states that the squadron strength of IAF is 32 and the number of combat capable aircraft stands at 849 which is lower than the 852 of 2005-2006. In comparison, Pakistani Air Force has 15 squadrons, though the combat capable fighters have reduced to 425. Chinese PLA Air Force, on other hand, has enhanced both, number of regiments to 64 and combat capable fighters to 2,397. Does India see the reality? Can India make out what lies in the future?

Since a few congenital Indian critics do not know the reality of the overall security environment, one should try understand as to why the Deputy Chief, Vice-Chief (both three-star Air Marshals) and the four-star Chief of Air Staff nearly simultaneously made uncharacteristic public statements pertaining to fleet of the Indian Air Force. The ominous statement of the Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa that India is "facing a grave threat", however, is the ultimate forewarning to the nation.

Critics nevertheless will find fault with professional soldiers and lobby to stifle their voice, without realising that the IAF is in distress without even a minimum number of fighters. There are qualified pilots, with eligible age and fitness certificates, who are on ground owing to the decommissioned fighters they were trained, and certified, to fly. If this is not a “grave threat” then what is?

But then who will ask questions of successive governments for their monumental failure to take timely decision for selection of fighters to keep the IAF battle-ready? In the aftermath of the 1962 debacle in the border war with China, an Opposition politician had written a book ‘The guilty men of 1962’. But nothing happened to a single person out of those ‘guilty men’. They all went scotfree and continued to rule the roost.

India today needs to understand that if the three senior-most uniformed officers of the IAF have raised issues on a public platform, they need to be heard, and not abused and accused of ‘speaking out of turn’. These fighter commanders, with four decades operational experience, must surely be anticipating, or fearing, the worst possible scenario.

India’s last major fighter induction (Sukhoi-30) took place in the 1990s as India then had a steady supply of fighters to replenish the IAF fleet from time to time. Thus, came the MiG series of 21, 23, 25, 27, 29 and Sukhoi-7 and Sukhoi-30. However, in between, also came the Anglo-French Jaguar in 1979-1980 followed by the French Mirage-2000 in the early 1980s.

There nevertheless were ‘scandal’ allegations related to Jaguar deal wherein the Defence Secretary died in office. Defence deal scams followed later. But does it mean that the IAF, or for that matter other wings of the armed forces, should continue to suffer avoidable ‘peace-time’ casualties? Can the Sino-Pakistan axis get a better opportunity to crush India without firing a shot? Is India aware of the fighter programme and acquisition of the Beijing-Islamabad duo? Doubtful. Else, successive ruling classes of Delhi would have resolved the crisis situation in the IAF a long time ago.

The writer is an alumnus, National Defence College


Afghanistan’s Rivers Could Be India’s Next Weapon Against Pakistan


Most of Afghanistan is currently experiencing a 60 percent drop in the rain and snowfall needed for food production. The rapid expansion of Kabul’s population, extreme drought conditions across the country, and the spectre of climate change have exacerbated the need for new water infrastructure. But building it is politically complicated; the Afghanistan-Pakistan border region is defined by its complex maze of trans-boundary rivers and there is no legal framework in place to avoid major conflict between the nations.

It’s no surprise, then, that in the Chahar Asiab district of Kabul, on a tributary of the Kabul River, the Maidan, work is scheduled to begin soon on the Shahtoot Dam. The dam will hold 146 million cubic meters of potable water for 2 million Kabul residents and irrigate 4,000 hectares of land. It will also provide drinking water for a new city on the outskirts of Kabul called Deh Sabz. Afghanistan is finally, after decades of devastating wars, in a position to begin to develop its economy and electricity from hydro-power.

But this ambitious development is fuelling fears downstream in Pakistan that the new dam will alter the flow of the Kabul River and reduce the water flows into Pakistan that could severely limit the country’s future access to water. The Pakistani media outlet Dawn has reported that there could be a 16 to 17 percent drop in water flow after the completion of the Shahtoot Dam and other planned dams.

Beyond reducing water flow to Pakistan, the Shahtoot Dam has a unique capacity to escalate tensions in the region thanks to its funding from India.India has made major investments in Afghanistan’s infrastructure in recent years—from highway construction to repair of government buildings and dams damaged by conflict.

Since 2001, India has pledged about $2 billion total in development projects in Afghanistan. And while Afghan analysts have made the case that the dam is critical to surviving future water shortages in Afghanistan, Pakistani officials in Islamabad are casting India’s investment in a harsher light, contending that the dam is merely the latest move in India’s grand plan to strangle Pakistan’s limited water supply. Because Pakistan has failed to build enough hydropower infrastructure at home, some Pakistanis fear it might have to buy electricity from Afghanistan in the future.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations’ 2011 report on water security in Central Asia identified coming water pressures as a regional security threat. The report captured the balancing act India must successfully pull off as a stakeholder in the construction of the Shahtoot Dam. “Providing the right support can have a tremendous stabilising influence, but providing the wrong support can spell disaster by agitating neighbouring countries.” The committee suggested that if competition over limited water resources soured Pakistan’s relationship with its neighbours, the repercussions “will be felt all over the world.”

Water shortages are often the underlying catalysts for war. Lack of water leads to food shortages, price increases, and famine—all of which can cause instability and conflict. Recent conflicts in Syria and Yemengrew out of destabilising water shortages that, along with other factors, led to all-out war. A similar dispute has been brewing between Egypt and Ethiopia as Egypt fears Ethiopia’s Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Damwill reduce its share of the Nile River’s flow.

Afghanistan’s president, Ashraf Ghani, has made it clear that improving water availability via dams is a top national priority, and it’s not hard to see why: Afghanistan’s wells are drying up. A 2017 study by Afghan, German, and Finnish universities stresses that Afghanistan desperately needs better water infrastructure and water management.

The city of Kabul was only built to support 1 million people, but in 2018 it is rapidly expanding toward a population of 5 million. Most Kabul residents currently depend on groundwater sources, which are depleting rapidly in part due to thousands of unregulated wells. The Shahtoot Dam could provide desperately needed clean drinking water and would irrigate thousands of acres of land in a country where 85 percent of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

But Afghanistan’s pressing needs do little to diminish neighbouring Pakistan’s anxieties, as both countries are water-stressed and depend on the Kabul River for drinking water, irrigation, and power generation. Pakistan has a legitimate concern over India’s

investment in Afghan dams, as the Kabul River’s water flows into Pakistan could be cut or severely limited by the storage dams, greatly increasing tensions in a region that is already on edge. It is not just one dam that is alarming for Pakistan. India has assisted Afghanistan with studies on the feasibility of a total of 12 dams to be built on the Kabul River, which could generate 1,177 megawatts of power and further reduce water flow into Pakistan.

That’s a threat to a country like Pakistan, which is highly dependent on agriculture. A World Resources Institute report states that Pakistan could become the most water-stressed nation in the region by 2040, before accounting for the potential of reduced water flow from the Kabul River.


Sino-Indian Secretaries Discuss Setting Up Defence Hotlines


Indian Army had been maintaining that hotline should be set up between its DGMO and its equivalent in the People’s Liberation Army

New Delhi: Indian and Chinese defence secretaries met in the Capital on Tuesday to discuss setting up of hotlines between the central and regional military headquarters of the two countries.

Beijing’s intransigence to act against Pakistan-based terrorists such as Masood Azhar was also the highlight of the talks between the secretaries. India also raised its concerns over China’s support to the Pakistani establishment, including its backing for Islamabad’s activities in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Defence secretary Sanjay Mitra and his Chinese counterpart Lt General Shao Yuanming, the deputy chief of Joint Staff Department, Central Military Commission of People ’s Liberation Army, met within months of Chinese defence minister Wei Fenghe’s India visit.

During Chinese defence minister’s visit here in August, both sides had agreed to create a new memorandum of understanding on defence exchanges and cooperation, with India suggesting setting up of more than one military hotline, including between the local commands. During the meeting, the two sides had agreed to create hotline at the level of the Director General of Military Operations.

Indian Army had been maintaining that hotline should be set up between its DGMO and its equivalent in the People’s Liberation Army. But China had proposed that as its Western Theatre Command is located opposite India, its commander should engage with the Indian DGMO. India had been maintaining that protocol should be followed.

The new Sino-Indian MoU will replace the one signed on defence cooperation in 2006, wherein the two countries had agreed to regularly hold military exchanges and joint military exercises. 


Pak Intruder Shot Dead In Jammu And Kashmir; Had 15 Grenades, 2 Rifles


The infiltration bid comes after a series of ceasefire violations by Pakistan

Jammu: A heavily-armed Pakistani intruder was shot dead today along the border in Akhnoor sector in Jammu and Kashmir, the Army said, preventing the plan of terrorists to disrupt the forthcoming Panchayat elections in the state.

The recoveries made from the terrorist included two assault rifles along with two magazines and 234 rounds of bullets, five pistols with 10 magazines and 60 rounds, 15 hand grenades and 12 fuses for Improvised Explosive Devices, Jammu-based Army PRO Devender Anand said.

"This huge cache has scuttled the nefarious plans of the terrorist outfits to derail peace and harmony in the region and disrupt the forthcoming Panchayat elections in the state," he said.

The nine-phased Panchayat elections will begin November 17.

Mr Anand said an ambush party of the army killed the terrorist on this side of the international boundary at about 1.50 pm.

"The entire area near the scene of the gunfight has been cordoned off and search and destroy operation is still in progress," Mr Anand said.

"The timely intercept of the intrusion of the terrorists with the cache of arms, ammunition and other war like stores has thwarted any possible untoward incident, planned by the terrorist during the scheduled elections in the state," the Army PRO said.

The infiltration bid comes after a series of ceasefire violations by Pakistan which left three army personnel and a porter dead and three Border Security Force (BSF) troopers injured on Friday.

"The Indian Army is carrying out relentless and robust anti-infiltration operations in the state to break the backbone of terrorism and nip the designs of anti-national elements and the enemy to foment trouble south of the Pir Panjal ranges in Jammu and Kashmir," the PRO said.

The porter was killed by a Pakistani sniper along the sector followed by similar attacks from across the border in Sunderbani and Noushera sectors of Rajouri and Krishna Ghati sector of Poonch over the past three days.

The casualties suffered by Pakistan in the retaliatory action could not be ascertained immediately but several of their posts including the ones with snipers were hit over the past four days, officials said.


Scientists Told To Stay Silent

As the investigations into the BrahMos spy cases continues, the police are ascertaining if the main accused, Nishant Agrawal had leaked sensitive data relating to the supersonic missile

Hyderabad: The headquarters of the Defence Research and Development Organisation has cautioned its scientists across all laboratories not to reveal their identity or designation on any social platform, not even on matrimonial sites or wedding cards.

An investigation by the Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) in the arrest of Nishant Aggarwal, an engineer with BrahMos Aerospace revealed that he was contacted by the Pakistan Inter-Intelligence Service (ISI) through his LinkedIn profile (a network of professionals) and was enticed with a high paying job offer for which details of his work were required.

Mr Aggarwal had disclosed his role at the DRDO in his profile. There are reportedly 1,000 Indian scientists on the radar of Pakistan’s ISI.

Following this specific input, an official circular issued by the office of Director of Vigilance ministry of defence and DRDO, cautioning scientists to conceal their identity on all platforms. Also, scientists on contract with the DRDO labs have been asked to give an undertaking that they will not disclose details of sensitive projects even after they quit.

A source said, “Scientist carrying CDs, pen-drives and cell phones or any media that can help transfer information has been banned inside the labs. There is a stiff vigil on officials carrying sensitive documents; the movement of each document is now registered in the record after it is signed by the Lab director or project head.”

“Circulars have been issued from the Headquarters directing scientists not to divulge details about projects and to conceal their identity. An eye is being kept on who they speak to offline and online. Officials who intend to quit DRDO labs should not leak information on the projects,” the source added. The ATS investigating the case found that Nishant Aggarwal who worked for a brief period in the Hyderabad BrahMos Aerospace facility, shared the blueprint of the missile project with the Pakistanis.

He had saved information on his laptop which included secret documents that he had accessed from the Hyderabad lab.

When he clicked on the link he was given, a malware was downloaded in his computer through which the information was stolen.


PM Narendra Modi Admits To Theft In Rafale Deal Before SC, Says Rahul Gandhi


Congress president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has admitted to "theft" in the Rafale deal before the Supreme Court and to changes in the contract without asking the Indian Air Force

Congress president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi has admitted to “theft” in the Rafale deal before the Supreme Court and to changes in the contract without asking the Indian Air Force. On Monday, the Centre submitted a 14-page document titled “Details of the steps in the decision making process leading to the award of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft order” to the Supreme Court.

“Modi ji has admitted to his theft in the Supreme Court. In the affidavit, he admitted to changes in the contract without asking the Air Force and put Rs 30,000 crore in Ambani’s pocket. “The picture is still to come my friend,” Gandhi said in a tweet in Hindi. He also tagged a media report, alleging that the government in its affidavit before the Supreme Court has thrown up more “wrong doings” in the Rafale deal.

The Centre disclosed to the Supreme Court the pricing details for the 36 Rafale jets that were negotiated on “better terms” and said it “completely followed” the Defence Procurement Procedure laid out in 2013 and secured approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security. The submission by the Centre was made in the 14-page document that has since been made public. However, the pricing details provided in a sealed cover remained in the custody of the top court. The court will peruse both the documents and take up the matter on Wednesday.


Rafale: Dassault Yet To Confirm Details of Indian Offset Partner, Centre To Supreme Court


by Murali Krishnan

The Central government has told the Supreme Court that Dassault Aviation, the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) in the Rafale deal, is yet to submit a formal proposal providing the details of the Indian Offset Partner.

Further, it has stated that it has no role in the selection of Reliance Defence as Offset Partner in the Rafale deal.

Interestingly, this statement is made in a PIB release which has been annexed to the main document which sets out the details about the deal.

The response by the Centre states that the process laid down in the Defence Procurement Procedure was completely followed for the procurement of 36 Rafale Aircraft.

Below are the excerpts from the details submitted by the Union government to the Supreme Court:

Defence Procurement Procedure

The Defence Procurement Procedure 2013 was followed in the procurement of the 36 Rafale Aircraft, the Centre has stated.

It then sets out the acquisition process under the DPP which is as follows:

– Preparation of Services Qualitative Requirements
– Acceptance of Necessity by defence Acquisition Council
– Solicitation of Offers
– Evaluation of Technical Offers by Technical Evaluation committee
– Field Evaluation (Trials)
– Staff Evaluation
– Oversight by the Technical Oversight Committee
– Commercial Negotiations by Contract Negotiation Committee
– Approval of Competent Finance Authority
– Award of Contract/ Supply Order
– Contract Administration and Post-contract Management

Asymmetric And Extremely Critical Situation For Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force had been making efforts to procure new aircraft to replace ageing planes and to have the capability to fight a two-front war.

Pursuant to the same in principle approval to procure 126 aircraft was granted by the Defence Minister in 2001.

However, the process for procuring the same remained inconclusive due to a variety of factors as set out in the government’s response.

During this period, our adversaries inducted modern aircraft and upgraded their older versions. This made the situation extremely asymmetric and critical.

“As per available information, our adversaries inducted more than 400 fighters during the period from 2010 to 2015. They not only inducted 4th generation aircraft but also inducted 5th generation Stealth Fighter Aircraft. The combined effect of our own reducing combat potential and our adversaries enhancing their combat potential made the situation asymmetrical and extremely critical.”

Hence, there was an urgent need to arrest the decline in the number of fighter squadrons in the IAF and enhance their combat capabilities.

This led to a joint Indo-French statement in April 2015 declaring the intent to acquire 36 Rafale jets in flyaway condition from M/s Dassault Aviation

Decision-Making Process For Acquisition of 36 Rafale Aircraft

All the requisite steps were followed in the acquisition of the 36 Rafale jets. This includes preparation of Services Qualitative Requirements (SQR), Acceptance of Necessity by Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), Technical Evaluation and Acceptance of the technically qualified platform, commercial negotiations by Contract Negotiation Committee, and approval of Competent Financial Authority as per requirement of Defence Procurement Procedure 2013.

The acquisition process for MMRCA had reached commercial evaluation stage after the completion of all standard processes as per the DPP. Approval of the DAC for procurement of aircraft from French government through an Inter-governmental Agreement was taken on May 13, 2015.

An Indian Negotiating Team was constituted to negotiate the terms for the procurement of the aircraft. The INT was headed by the Deputy Chief of Air Staff of IAF.

The negotiations lasted from May 2015 to April 2016. A total of 74 meetings including 48 internal meetings of the INT and 26 external INT meetings with the French side were held.

Aspects pertaining to the responsibilities and obligations of the French government, pricing, delivery schedule, maintenance terms, offsets etc were discussed and negotiated during the meetings.

Chairman of INT submitted the report on August 4, 2016, recommending approval and signing of IGA. After Inter-Ministerial consultations, the proposal was placed before the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on August 24, 2016. It was approved by the CCS on the same day.

Subsequently, the IGA was signed by the Indian Defence Minister and French Defence Minister on September 23, 2016.

On Offsets And Selection of Offset Partner

The document states that to promote indigenisation, a robust offset clause has been included in the DPP since 2005. The aim is to leverage our capital acquisitions to develop the Indian Defence Industry, improve defence research and encourage the development of synergistic sectors such as internal security and civil aerospace.

The offsets are to ensure that for every dollar that went to a foreign arms supplier, 30 to 40 per cent get back into India for an investment or procurement.

The offset discharge is to be undertaken through various offset avenues like direct purchase of eligible products/ services, FDI in JV, transfer of technology/ provision of equipment.

As per the Defence Offset Guidelines, the OEM/ vendor is free to select its Indian Offset Partners (IOP), the Centre has stated.

In the instant case, there is no mention of any private Indian Business House in IGA or Offset Contract.

There are two offsets contracts in this case – one with Dassault Aviation and the other with M/s MBDA who are the French Industrial Suppliers of Aircraft Package and Weapon Package respectively.

The Offset Contract does not envisage manufacture of 36 Rafale Aircraft in India by any public or private sector firm.

As per the Offset Contract, the Vendor/ OEM is required to confirm the details of IOPs/ products either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to the discharge of offset obligation. The annual offset implementation schedule as per the offset contract will commence from October 2019. The vendor/ OEM is yet to submit a formal proposal in the prescribed manner indicating details of IOPs and products for Offset Discharge.

Interestingly, the Centre has also annexed a press release of September 22. As per the same, the Government has no role in the selection of Indian Offset Partner and the same is a decision of the OEM which is Dassault Aviation in this case.

As per the guidelines, the vendor is required to provide the details of Offset Partners either at the time of seeking offset credits or one year prior to the discharge of offset obligation which in this case will be due from 2020.

Read the Document submitted by Centre below.


India And Russia: Ties That Bind


Ties between India and Russia may not be strengthening quite so fast as both sides diversify their partners, but history and strategic considerations still bind the two powers

by Aditya Dave

The joint statement released during Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit to India last month emphasised Moscow and New Delhi’s ‘Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership’. This phrase has also been used previously by Indian and Russian leaders; however, both have broadened their strategic horizons in recent years. While neither was heavily dependent on the other for their economic interests, both states appear to be drifting apart even in terms of arms sales, which has been the lynchpin of their bilateral relationship.

This shift is particularly visible in India’s increasing defence and security cooperation with the US, as it seeks to steadily move away from its long-espoused stance of ‘non-alignment’ and diversify its defence imports. Between 2013 and 2017, Russia provided 62% of India’s total arms imports – down from 79% between 2008 and 2012. Over the same periods, the US increased its arms exports to India five-fold, and grew to become India’s second-largest supplier, accounting for 15% of its total arms imports between 2013 and 2017. The evolving India-US relationship is part of a longer-term strategic realignment, which is motivated in part by China’s expanding role in the Indian Ocean and the emergence of a constellation of international actors seeking to balance this influence, a process in which it is difficult to see Russia playing a significant role.

India’s diversification has also been influenced by hardware- and delivery-related obstacles with Russian equipment. India withdrew from an 11-year collaborative project with Russia to build a fifth-generation fighter aircraft ‘following enduring differences over its developmental cost and technological capabilities’. This has not been a wholly uncommon problem. Similar difficulties were faced during the refurbishment of the INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier, which faced repeated delays and bloated costs. Further, in 2016, the Comptroller and Auditor General of Indiareported that the MiG-29K/KUB aircraft used by the Indian Navy experienced problems with its airframe and engine, which affected serviceability rates and flight safety.

On the other hand, the continuing importance of India in Russia’s defence exports is highlighted by the fact that India accounted for 35% of Russia’s total arms exports from 2008 to 2017. Nevertheless, Russia has started exploring a deeper military relationship with India’s neighbour, Pakistan, signing an agreement that enables the training of Pakistani troops at Russian institutions and engaging in joint military drills. However, given the magnitude of Russian exports to India, it remains to be seen to what extent Russia will allow its budding Pakistan link to develop. It is also notable that these developments in Russia-Pakistan relations coincide with tensions in the latter’s ties with the US, leading to cuts in US military assistance as well as training programmes.

In spite of these shifts, it is unlikely that India and Russia will disentangle their defence relationship beyond a certain point. While India may be looking to hedge its relationships and ‘overcome the hesitations of history’in its relationship with the US, Russia remains a crucial partner. Russia has delivered equipment that Western partners may be more hesitant to provide. INS Arihant, India’s nuclear submarine and the final piece of its nuclear triad, is based on Russia’s Akula-1-class submarines and was built in India with assistance from Russian scientists. Discussions are currently underway to expand this programme to include joint design and construction for the next generation of India’s nuclear submarines. In addition, India’s space programme has benefited from Russian assistance for several decades, and it continues to do so as India prepares to launch its first crewed space mission.

Russia has been a steadfast supplier of arms to India since the 1960s, and therefore a large portion of India’s existing military equipment is of Russian origin. Consequently, a strong relationship helps to ensure a steady supply of spares and components. The close ties have also led to the development of trust among key civilian and military stakeholders in India, which does not yet exist between New Delhi and Washington. The numerous highs and lows of the India-US relationship mean that there is some scepticism about the reliability of the US as a defence equipment supplier. This is compounded by concerns that the US can leverage its security relationship in order to achieve political objectives, like it appears to be doing at the moment in its relationship with Pakistan.

This was most recently manifested in the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), which targets ‘significant transactions’ with entities in the defence or intelligence sectors of Russia and covers a number of US partners, including India. Apprehensions about further US pressure, along with India’s critical need for defence equipment and modernisation, is why India was willing to risk the prospect of indirect US sanctions and sign an agreement worth $5.4 billion for the supply of Russia’s S-400 Triumf air defence missile system during President Putin’s visit. Indeed, in what might be viewed as reinforcing India’s concerns about the US, reports suggest that the US has offered to provide a CAATSA waiver in exchange for India’s purchase of F-16 fighter aircraft.

Even beyond hardware considerations, however, there is a strategic imperative for both India and Russia to sustain a strong bilateral relationship. For India, this provides the foundation for an increased focus on energy, particularly liquified natural gas and nuclear reactors. It also represents a close link with a permanent member of the UN Security Council (UNSC) and one that has expressed its support for India’s accession to both the UNSC and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. For both India and Russia, the sizeable defence equipment portfolio ensures that there is sufficient stake in the relationship to prevent a lurch towards the US by India or towards China by Russia.

Thus, while India has reduced its dependence on Russian equipment and has become closer to the US, particularly in the Indian Ocean region, the legacy of its deep relations with Russia cannot be ignored. Both for practical considerations related to the maintenance and modernisation of its military as well as to exercise its ‘strategic autonomy’, India is likely to continue its military engagement with Russia.

Simultaneously, India has become more open to expanding its security cooperation with the US, as evidenced by its signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, commonly known by its acronym COMCASA, with the US in September. Even though this may be seen as contradictory in Washington and could cause tension with a White House which tends to view relations with other countries in a binary fashion, India is unlikely to pick sides as it continues to balance its great power relationships.

Aaditya Dave is a Research Analyst in the International Security Studies team at RUSI