Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Donald Trump Wants India To Help U.S. With Afghanistan 'Goals'; Warns Pakistan For Support To Terror

Trump said his new approach was aimed at preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for Islamist militants bent on attacking the United States

WASHINGTON: The US today ruled out a hasty withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan as President Donald Trump warned Pakistan of consequences if it continues to provide safe havens to terror groups and sought an enhanced role for India to bring peace in the war-torn country.

Trump, in a prime-time televised address to the nation, laid out his South Asia policy saying a "critical part" of it was to further develop US' strategic partnership with India.

He said after a "comprehensive review", it has been decided that the American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically.

"A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I've said many times how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance, the dates we intend to begin, or end, military operations," Trump said in his address.

"We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities," Trump said as he announced his South Asia policy in front of about 2,000 people from all five services and top officials of his administration.

PAK SCAN: Indian Nuclear Doctrine Revision To Pose Security Risks For Pakistan: Experts

Indian nuclear doctrine revision to pose security risks for Pakistan: Experts

Islamabad: Experts speaking at a round table discussion hosted by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) feared Monday that revision of nuclear doctrine by India would exacerbate Pakistan’s security concerns and undermine South Asia’s deterrence-based stability.

They were participating in a discussion titled ‘From Counter Value to Counter-Force: Change in India’s Nuclear Doctrine’ to deliberate on the recent debate about the likely shift in India’s nuclear posture and its implications for Pakistan as well as regional strategic stability.

Experts agreed that expansion of nuclear capabilities and revision of posture could have serious security implications for Pakistan. Furthermore, the resulting environment could further reduce the space for dialogue between the two countries.

Statements by Indian officials and scholars have indicated that the Indian government could be considering a revision in its ‘No-First Use’ nuclear doctrine to include the option of preemptive strikes. Under the existing doctrine, India could carry out retaliatory strike against Pakistani cities, but that too could change to include preemptive strikes against Pakistani nuclear assets.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Christopher Clary, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Albany, New York, said that preemptive nuclear strike by India would be very difficult, but was not impossible because of acquisition of technology from US and Israel as well as indigenous development of its nuclear assets.

Dr. Clary believed that India could be playing up the idea of counter-force strike to deter Pakistan by adding credibility to its posture; keep the option of such a strike available to itself in the eventuality of a breakdown in deterrence; pre-empt an imminent attack; or bait Pakistan into an arms race for exhausting its limited resources.

post-doctoral fellow at Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University Dr Mansoor was of the opinion that India, by expanding its capabilities, could be moving towards a possible change in its nuclear posture and realisation of its counter-force targeting aspirations.

Dr. Mansoor said, India could be doing so to inflict a decapitating first strike on Pakistan and maintain escalation dominance in case of a conflict. He also highlighted the conventional discrepancies between India and Pakistan.

Earlier on, the Executive Director of CISS Ali Sarwar Naqvi highlighted two factors of concern for Pakistan’s security namely, the growing Indo-US cooperation and the ambiguity shrouding the narrative. Dr. Naeem Salik, senior fellow at CISS, said Indian statements about its nuclear doctrine were a typical reflection of India’s jingoism.

To Fight Terrorism By Pakistan, India Should Deepen Ties With Both US & Russia

The panel echoed the government’s worries over China's role in building infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir

by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

NEW DELHI: The parliamentary standing committee on external affairs has recommended that India should “deepen and widen” its engagement with both the United States and Russia to fight terrorism abetted and exported by Pakistan.

“The international community need to realise that the use of terrorism as a state policy by a nuclear-armed Pakistan is not only India's problem, but also a grave global concern,” the committee said in its latest report.

The committee, headed by Congress MP and former minister of state for external affairs, Shashi Tharoor, submitted its report on India-Pakistan relations to the Lok Sabha earlier this month.

The panel echoed the government’s worries over China's role in building infrastructure in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

“It is quite inexplicable that a country so sensitive about sovereignty and territorial integrity has been oblivious about our sovereignty concerns on (the) CPECBSE -4.45 % (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor),” the report said.

The CPEC is a proposed economic corridor linking Kashgar in Xinxiang in north-western China and a deep sea port at Gwadar in Balochistan in south-western Pakistan. It is proposed to pass through areas India accuses Pakistan of illegally occupying in Kashmir.

“It is worrisome to discern that some of the projects under the CPEC are in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), a part of the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir which has been in illegal occupation of Pakistan since 1947,” the committee said in the report.

The committee includes MPs of ruling BJP and opposition Congress, Samajwadi Party, Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India (Marxist).

India has been opposing the CPEC, which is billed as the flagship project under the One-Belt-One-Road initiative.

“We may well be poised for greater Pakistan-China strategic collaboration and should prepare for that eventuality,” foreign secretary S Jaishankar said while briefing the parliamentary panel about China-Pakistan engagements, according to people aware of the matter.

The committee also took note of China’s persistent policy of blocking India’s move to bring Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar and other terrorist leaders based in Pakistan under United Nations sanctions. It recommended that the government should continue its dialogue with its international partners, including China, for bringing the JeM chief under UN sanctions.

The report said that India has not yet decided on stripping Pakistan of the ‘Most Favoured Nation’ for trade status, although it has been under review since the September 2016 terrorist attack at Uri. It said that the commerce ministry had informed it that no decision had been taken so far on the withdrawal of the MFN status India had granted to Pakistan for bilateral trade.

The panel said that Pakistan continued to be reluctant to reciprocate and accord India the MFN status. It said that the government should make all possible efforts to persuade Pakistan to reciprocate by extending the MFN status to India.

Hambantota: China Has Seaport In Sri Lanka, India May Get An Airport

The proposal to hand over MRIA to an India firm has been submitted to the Lankan Cabinet by the country’s civil aviation ministry

by Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury

NEW DELHI: After Bhutan, Sri Lanka is hedging its bet on China by creating a situation which might enable India to expand its presence in the island nation.

The Lankan government is planning to hand over to India running of the Hambantota airport near the deep-sea port to be operated by Beijing.

The loss-making Mattala Rajapaksa Int’l Airport (MRIA) in Hambantota built by China could now be handed over to India, allowing Colombo to pay back dues to China’s EXIM Bank.

The proposal to hand over MRIA to an India firm has been submitted to the Lankan Cabinet by the country’s civil aviation ministry. If India bags the order to turn around the “world’s emptiest airport”, it would signal Colombo’s intention to have a balanced approach towards Delhi and Beijing. Hambantota in southern Sri Lanka is key to China’s One Belt One Road initiative. There are reports that India could invest $205m into MRIA for a 70% share for 40 years. Sri Lanka is understood to have received eight proposals, including one from China, but India’s proposal is being reviewed separately.

MRIA, located, 250 km south from Colombo, was built for $209 m largely with Chinese assistance ($190 m). The airport located at a half-an-hour drive from the deep-sea port figured high in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s plan to develop his constituency Hambantota with assistance from China. There were apprehensions that the key infrastructure would also be used by China for purposes detrimental to India’s security interests.

While Beijing recently got a 99-year-lease for running the Hambantota Port, it has been made clear by Colombo that the port will not be utilised for any defence activities. Rajapaksa had also planned to create a large industrial and export processing zone, an exhibition centre, a large cricket stadium, and a hotel and leisure area in the sleepy Hambantota zone.

Anatoly Antonov: Russia's Tough-But-Pragmatic New US Ambassador

Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov

Moscow: Veteran diplomat Anatoly Antonov, appointed Russia's new ambassador to the US on Monday, at a time when ties are at dangerously low ebb, has the reputation of being a tough negotiator with a deep suspicion of Washington.

But he is also a seasoned pragmatist able to adapt to sudden shifts in relations with the West.

The 62-year-old deputy foreign minister will need all his skills and experience if he is to help pull US-Russia ties out of the deep freeze. Outgoing envoy Sergei Kislyak has been at the eye of a storm over accusations the Kremlin conspired to get Donald Trump to the White House. 

But Antonov, too, comes with baggage, for he is on a European Union blacklist over Russia's intervention in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday formally appointed Antonov, suspending his duties as deputy foreign minister, and dismissed Kislyak via three simultaneous decrees, the Kremlin said in a statement.

"Antonov is a hardliner, who understands the issues he talks about and knows the West quite well," said analyst Alexander Gabuev from the Carnegie Moscow Centre.

"He is a loyal supporter of the Kremlin line, but not a blind believer in conspiracy theories as many of his peers in the Russian military and intel community are."

Antonov rose up through the ranks of Soviet diplomacy before donning a military uniform to become deputy defence minister from 2011 to 2016 at a time when ties with the West plunged to their worst levels since the Cold War.

At the defence ministry, Antonov was often the stony public face fending off accusations over Moscow's actions in Ukraine and later Syria as an increasingly assertive Kremlin sought to stamp its authority abroad.

On Ukraine he denied Russia had sent troops across the border and ridiculed accusations that insurgents and Moscow were involved in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.

The EU in February 2015 responded by slapping Antonov on a list of Russian officials under sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans.

After Moscow launched its surprise bombing campaign in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad, Antonov regularly fronted press conferences hailing the operation.

He played a major role in attacking Turkey after Ankara shot down a Russian jet on its border with Syria, accusing leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his family of involvement in the illegal oil trade with jihadists from the Islamic State group.

"The leadership and especially Erdogan won't resign and won't admit anything even if their faces are smeared in stolen oil," he was quoted as saying.

'Business is business'

Antonov- who speaks English and Burmese according to his foreign ministry profile- has considerable experience negotiating complex weapons control issues with the United States.

He headed the Russian delegation that agreed the New START treaty on nuclear arms reduction with the US in 2010, a brief high-water mark in ties between the US and Moscow.

"The best words to describe the spirit of the talks would be 'mutual respect'. It is thanks to that mutual respect that our meetings were always businesslike and very productive," US negotiator Rose Gottemoeller said in 2011.

"As Ambassador Antonov would frequently say, 'business is business'."

Kommersant daily had reported that Antonov was being lined up to move to Washington before Trump's surprise election victory over Hillary Clinton.

And despite his reputation as a hardliner Antonov insists Russia and the US need to mend ties- even if he remains convinced it should be on Moscow's terms.

"There is a big job before us- getting out of this slump. But no one is talking about giving in," Antonov said after a parliamentary vetting hearing in May.

"We need to convince our American colleagues that friendly, equal, respectful relations are in the interests of the people of both Russia and the US."

TeamIndus Upbeat As Google Lunar Xprize Mission Extends Deadline

TeamIndus being India’s first private startup venture in aerospace arena has raised expectations, with many noted investors showing interest to put in their money in the company

New Delhi — India's first privately funded lunar mission TeamIndus has got an extension of deadline for launching its moon rover for the $30 million Google Lunar Xprize (GLXP).

TeamIndus and its global rivals now have to complete their missions by March 31, 2018 irrespective of the launch date. Earlier, GLXP organizers had fixed the launch date as December 31, 2017.

"The launch date is not a factor anymore. The teams will have to complete their missions by March 31, 2018," read a GLXP statement.

TeamIndus' will launch the rover with the help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO)'s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV). The mission was set to begin on 28 December 2017, but the latest extension gives it more time to run tests.

"While we have been working hard on an aggressive timeline, the change of date allows us to continue work with that fervour to make sure that the mission makes history," The Hindu quoted Rahul Narayan, its board member and Fleet Commander as saying.

Apart from the extension of launch deadline, the organizers have also announced a few more prizes for runners up.

TeamIndus is a 100-person engineering team, including 20 retired scientists of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).

ISRO Looking At Consortium For PSLVs: Chief Kiran Kumar

The PSLV is the first operational launch vehicle of ISRO

ISRO Chairman A S Kiran Kumar emphasised on the building capacity within the organisation as well in the domestic industry

NEW DELHI: Known for its low-cost satellite launches, India's space agency ISRO is looking at a consortium for building launch vehicles to enhance its capacity and capture a larger slice of the global space industry, its chief A S Kiran Kumar said today.

Kumar emphasised on the building capacity within the organisation as well in the domestic industry.

"We are trying to increase the number of launches. We are trying to look at a consortium, a joint venture entity, to build launch vehicles," Kumar said.

Earlier this year, ISRO launched 104 satellites in one go, using the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), its most trusted launcher.

With the consortium, ISRO plans to increase the number of PSLVs so that the frequency of launches can match the number of launch vehicles, he said.

"It is a question of capacity building to capture a portion of the global market," Kumar told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

Through its PLSV, the Indian Space Research Organisation has successfully launched foreign satellites at a lower cost.

Kumar said ISRO was also seeking to increase its annual launches to 24, apart from boosting its existing constellation of 42 satellites.

"We are trying to increase the frequency of launches so that we can put sufficient infrastructure in place to meet our communication, remotes-sensing, earth observation and navigation requirements. Though we have 42 satellites in the orbit, we need more (satellites)," Kumar said.

He said ISRO was also gearing up for its Moon mission- Chandrayaan 2. This would involve releasing a lander on the surface of the Moon.

He said the space agency has asked for proposals from the scientific community on the possible programmes that could be launched for its inter-planetary missions for Venus, Mars and some asteroids.

According to the government, the average annual revenue of the international satellite market over the last three years is approximately USD 200 billion.

In 2015-16, Antrix, ISRO's commercial arm, earned approximately Rs 230 crore through commercial launch services, which is about 0.6 per cent of the global launch service market, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Department of Space, said in a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha.

T-90 Battle Tanks: After This Upgrade, India's Main Battle Tank Will Become More Lethal

The Russian-origin T-90 tanks are mainstays of the Indian Army's offensive formations.Here are the list of updates:

Arming Them With A Third Generation Missile System

To enhance its strike capability, the Army is now working on a project to add more teeth to its T-90 main battle tanks by arming them with a third generation missile system. The sources said the third generation missile should achieve a DoP of 800-850 mm and will be capable of hitting targets up to a range of 8 KM in day as well as night.

INVAR Missile System

Bharat Dynamics's high velocity jamming immune missile with tandem warhead designed to defeat explosive reactive armour. Intended to destroy stationary and moving targets

Currently, the T-90 tanks are equipped with a laser guided INVAR missile system and the Army has decided to replace them with a third generation gun-launched missile. "As the design of the existing INVAR missile has been maximised, both in terms of range and depth of penetration (DoP), it is imperative to upgrade it to next generation missiles with enhanced capability," according to a document related to the project.

Missiles, To Be Fired From the 125mm Gun Barrels

The missiles, to be fired from the 125 mm gun barrels of T-90 tanks, will be able to hit targets by taking a pre-flight programmed manoeuvres. The missiles should be capable of firing against mobile as well as static targets.

Modular Engine

The Army is also working on a separate project to install a modular engine for the T-90 tanks so as to enhance their strike capability in high-altitude battle field. The proposed modular engine for T-90 tanks is envisaged to have a variable power output of 1200-1500 HP to cater to high battle field agility.

U.S. To Create Two Under-Secretary Posts To Strengthen Defence Ties With India

DTTI has also made possible transfer of radar, gas turbine engine, night-vision, and other technology to India

by Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

NEW DELHI: The United States has decided to create two under-secretary positions in the Department of Defence to improve sharing of information and technology with India, according to a report submitted to the Congress in July.

The new positions will be created in the Defence Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), which comes under the DoD. The DTTI was created to remove bureaucratic obstacles in the cooperation between US and India, identify opportunities to advance the sharing defence technologies, collaborate in science and technology projects. The daily functioning of the DTTI is overseen by the Inter-Agency Task Force, co-chaired by the director of international cooperation, office of USD (Acquisition, Technology and Logistics).

The report submitted to Congress suggests that the future leadership of DTTI “consist of an individual with experience in defence acquisition and technology to reinforce and ensure the success of the US-India defence relationship”. The report also directs the department to reorganise the office of the USD (AT&L) into two new under-secretary positions — for research and engineering, and for acquisition and sustainment. These will be created before February 2018. Under DTTI, there are seven joint working groups exploring projects like aircraft carriers, jet engines, intelligence and surveillance, chemical-biological protection, naval systems, and air systems.

DTTI has also made possible transfer of radar, gas turbine engine, night-vision, and other technology to India. The DTTI was created in 2012 by the US DoD and the Indian MOD as a means of strengthening industrial cooperation and moving away from the traditional “buyer-seller” dynamic. To support DTTI, DoD also established the India Rapid Reaction Cell (IRRC) in 2015 – a team of full-time personnel exclusively focused on advancing the work of DTTI.

Doklam Foretold

The Doklam stand-off was inevitable. It may be resolved peacefully but it is a manifestation of the larger geopolitical contest that is playing out in Asia between India and China. How do we respond? Economically, it is a no-contest because it is only in 2030 that India will reach the size of China’s 2014 GDP. Perhaps the answers lie in geography. Expanding from its peripheries, China has economically secured its borders.

Trade with the five Central Asian republics has risen from $1.8 billion in 2000 to $50 billion in 2013. Northward, the Han Chinese have moved into inner Mongolia and invested heavily in underground metals in Mongolia. About 90 per cent of Mongolian exports go to China. The Chinese population in its Northeast region is also slowly creeping across the border into the Russian Far East. In Southeast Asia, the economies of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) are closely tied to China. The total trade volume of ASEAN with China is projected to increase to $1 trillion by 2020.

Chinese presence in Afghanistan and its massive investment in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor has enabled China to effectively skirt the Himalayan barrier and come to India’s northwest, a region to which India has been historically sensitive because it was the main invasion route into the Subcontinent. Moving into South Asia, China has become the largest trading partner of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar. It is developing the Gwadar port in Pakistan, has taken over the operation of Hambantota in Sri Lanka and operationalised the gas and oil pipelines from Myanmar’s Kyaukpyu port to Kunming. However, the Chinese also have major geographical weaknesses in the maritime domain.

Along its Pacific coast, China is hemmed in by Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines and Indonesia. The East China Sea and South China Sea are bitterly contested and there is a strong US Navy presence with its “Freedom of Navigation” operations. China has not been a traditional naval power but clearly understands that it can no longer remain continental. This is reflected in the shift in China’s strategy to also encompass “far seas” protection in addition to “near sea” defence. The primary “far sea” is the Indian Ocean, across which flow not only Chinese oil but raw materials sourced from Sub-Saharan Africa. India is also constrained by geography. It is hemmed in from the north by the Himalayas and the west by a hostile Pakistan. East and south are the only natural gateways and that should dictate our strategy.

A serious push has to be given to India’s “Act East” policy. The Chinese influence in Southeast Asia looks extremely strong but there are signs of cracks due to a rising anti-China sentiment. Ethnic tensions have led to the Chinese leaving Malaysia. According to the home minister of Malaysia, of the 56,576 Malaysians who renounced their citizenship between 2006 and 2016, 49,864 were Chinese. Tiny Singapore, fearful of Chinese domination, has the highest military expenditure in ASEAN. Infrastructure projects in Myanmar and Thailand have been stalled or delayed on environmental concerns. There are maritime disputes in the South China Sea with the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.

With confusion about Trump’s strategic focus and uncertainty over the US rebalance to Asia, ASEAN countries are going to look towards India and Japan to provide a counterweight to China. However, to be considered a serious player in this region, India must enhance its credibility. The India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway, conceived in 2002, has already missed its scheduled date and is now expected to be completed by 2020. The Imphal-Mandalay bus service, which had a trial run in 2015, has not started because of poor road connectivity. Such instances don’t inspire confidence in Indian capability. It could be argued that India stepping into China’s area of influence could exacerbate tensions but it is clear that the seriousness of India-China rivalry is a reality and has to be faced. In any event, with China showing little concern to Indian sensitivities in South Asia, there is little need to defer to China.

The Indian Ocean is another area where India and China will vie for supremacy. The Indian Navy needs to be significantly strengthened. We should turn the Indian map upside down and look more towards the Indian Ocean where, unlike China, there is no neighbour to contest Indian supremacy. The three services also need to put aside their differences and provide sufficient resources to the Andaman and Nicobar Command, which will be in the frontline of future Indian strategy.

A flashpoint along the Himalayan border is not impossible. We could see military action but the difficulties of geography rule out a decisive engagement in this area. Of course, the poor infrastructure along the border needs immediate attention if we are not to be distracted in our geostrategic approach with Depsang, Chumar and Doklam type of incidents. The air force needs strengthening, not only with aircraft but radars for warning and a strong air defence cover, both of which are almost absent along the northern borders.

With the establishment of the Strategic Support Force in late 2015 it is clear that the PLA is set on integrating space and cyber tools as an integral part of war fighting. We have to immediately put in place structures and capabilities to counter this threat. An almost total reliance on foreign hardware and software, lot of it Chinese, puts us at grave risk.

All this will require a long-term strategic push and an enhancement in defence expenditure. According to the IHS Jane report of 2015, China’s defence expenditure could grow to $233 billion by 2020 while Indian projections are at $64 billion. With major military shortfalls in almost all areas, the current allocations are just not sufficient. India’s future global status will be determined by its competition with China. A successful trading relationship cannot overcome the reality of this competition. India must not only secure her troubled borders but also be ready to challenge China in those areas that offer opportunities to us. This will require both a clear geopolitical vision and resources to convert this vision to reality.

Russia Helping India Complete Kaveri Engine Project: Rosoboronexport

An Indo-Russian project to modify India’s Kaveri Jet engine (presumably for the Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft) is about to be completed

“One of the most vivid illustrations (In Indo-Russian scientific partnership) is the KAVERI Indian aircraft engine. We have been involved in its development, modification and trials. The project is about to be over soon,” Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport said in a statement today.

JSC Rosoboronexport pursues active cooperation with its foreign partners in the field of joint research and development works, the statement said adding that at present, the majority of company’s joint R&D projects are with India and China. The projects focus on cooperation in the field of space, naval, air defense and army equipment, as well as other hi-tech projects.

“At present Rosoboronexport and Russia’s strategic partners are running over 200 R&D projects, whose number increases with every passing year. The growth dynamics continues to be positive. For instance, the number of such projects had not exceeded 100 until 2014”, - Alexander Mikheev, Director General of Rosoboronexport further said in the statement.

Defenseworld.net comment: The information that Russia is collaborating with India on the Kaveri engine is indeed interesting.

The Kaveri engine, developed by the Gas Turbine Research Establishment (GTRE) was originally meant to power India’s home-made fighter jets but the project was put on the back-burner as it failed to meet deadlines.

Some media reports said that India is currently holding talks with the French company, Safran to explore the possibility to develop a 125kN thrust Class engine to replace current 123 kN Thrust Class AL-31FP turbofan engines developed by Salyut-HAL.

Russian companies had also offered India its 142 kN thrust class AL-41F1S turbofan engines used in the Su-35 to replace current AL-31F turbofan engines, various reports said but the response of the Indian side was not known.

IMPLICATIONS FOR INDIA? K-9 Howitzer Malfunction Kills Two S Korean Soldiers

South Korea self-propelled Howitzer K-9 engages in a live-fire exercise

The explosion of a self-propelled howitzer ‘K-9 Thunder’ that killed South Korean soldiers last week is appeared to have caused by the combustion of gunpowder that is used to propel artillery shells toward the target, local media reports.

“For reasons unknown, there was smoke inside the howitzer’s breach block assembly,” the South Korean Army official was quoted as saying by The Korean Herald on Monday. “According to our on-site investigation, three sets of gunpowder were completely burned down without any trace,” source said.

Two South Korean soldiers were killed and five injured in an explosion inside a K-9 Thunder during artillery training Friday in Choerwon, Gangwon Province.

The Army decided to halt K-9 artillery firings for training purposes until the official investigation on the exact cause of the explosion is concluded. The training was designed to improve accuracy of counter-artillery attacks toward North Korea.

Touted as “high-quality indigenous artillery” for its longer range and higher rate of firing, he indigenous howitzer is manufactured by Samsung Techwin and has been exported to four foreign countries including Turkey, Poland, Finland and India.

However, since malfunctioning of two howitzers in 2010 during Pyongyang’s 2010 bombardment of Yeonpyong Island, the howitzer has been under scrutiny. 

More than 1,000 K-9s have been produced and they suffered from 1,700 malfunctions over the past five years. It means that every K-9 suffers from about two cases of malfunction every five years. This is similar to a car driven for five years, one might see a similar number of malfunctions.

It is worthy to note that, Larsen & Toubro (L&T) had signed a contract with Hanwha Techwin (HTW) in  for execution of the 155mm/52 Cal tracked self-propelled (SP) gun program for the Indian Army. 

L&T was declared as the sole qualified bidder, post User Evaluation Trials, based on the performance of the K-9 Vajra-T, a self-propelled howitzer appropriately customised and fielded by L&T with HTW as the technology partner. The K9 Vajra-T gun is an enhanced version of HTW’s K9 Thunder, to suit specific requirements of the Indian Army including desert operations.

Lt Col Purohit, Main Accused In 2008 Malegaon Blast Case, Gets Bail

The Supreme Court today granted interim bail to Lt Colonel Prasad Shrikant Purohit, the main accused in the 2008 Malegaon blast case which killed seven people.

Last week, Purohit, in his application for bail, had told the court that he had been in jail for the last nine years and was entitled to be granted bail.

Denying his involvement in the incident, Purohit told the court that even assuming that the charges that he had supplied the bomb were true, he would still have to be out of jail as the offence attracted a maximum of seven years' imprisonment.

At least seven persons were killed and nearly 100 injured when a bomb strapped to a motorcycle exploded in Malegaon in Nashik district on September 29, 2008.

On April 25 this year, the Bombay High Court granted bail to another accused in the case, Sadhvi Pragya Singh Thakur.

Our Bureau

Govt May Soon Allow 100% FDI In Defence

Boeing is eager to offer F/A-18 for the Indian Navy

But major defence multinationals not interested in technology transfer

by Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla

Mumbai: Hundred per cent foreign direct investment in defence manufacturing has been termed the need of the hour with senior government officials pushing for the inclusion and participation of foreign companies in the manufacture of military transport aircraft, battle tanks and armoured vehicles.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had held a meeting with government officials recently and conducted a review of the current Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) policy. The government has been looking to further liberalise the FDI regime to attract foreign investments in various sectors, including defence and retail.

An official present during this meeting said that the FDI policy is subject to industrial licence and such licences are granted by the Licensing Committee in the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), which takes into account the security clearances by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Senior officials in the DIPP said a proposal sent by NITI Aayog regarding encompassing more foreign participation in defence production was discussed at the meet, as was the urgent need for India to partake of the large global demand for tanks and armoured vehicles.

"Currently, foreign investment up to 49 per cent is permitted under the automatic route, and foreign investment beyond 49 per cent and up to 100 per cent is permitted through government approval. Though this will bring in access to modern technology for the forces, major defence multinationals prefer to remain on the sidelines and are not interested in real transfer of technology," government sources said, while requesting anonymity.

Multinationals in the defence sector are keen to invest in manufacturing facilities, “if they are given control. This fact has been pointed out to the government at several meetings with the multinational representations", sources added.

The DIPP officials maintain that FDI in defence has been slow given the uncertainty of returns on investment and the ambiguous nature of government orders, whereas increasing FDI in defence could help reverse the trend of India's complete dependence on defence equipment imports.

However, some critics emphasise that higher FDI will be a hurdle in building self-reliance in the sector, and can hamper larger national interests.

Under the automatic route, 76 per cent FDI is allowed for producing fighter aircraft and helicopters. However, "this has not really propelled the 'Make in India' initiative in the defence sector," officials charged.

To buttress their point, officials pointed out to the meagre FDI received since a year ago. From July 2016 to January 2017, FDI worth ₹0.61 lakh was received from Elbit Systems Land and C41 Ltd, Israel, in BF Elbit Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd.

Referring to lack of interest by defence multinationals, sources pointed out that the sector was in “dire need of significant capital investment and infusion of technology. India is one of the biggest buyers of foreign arms globally”.

To Stay Afloat, Defence Shipyards May Be Allowed To Borrow Abroad

GRSE is close to sealing deal with Philippines on INS KAMORTA stealth corvette warship export

by Nayanima Basu

In an effort to revive the deeply stressed defence shipyards and boost the shipbuilding industry, the Centre may soon allow them to bring External Commercial Borrowing (ECB) funds under the automatic route to meet their working capital requirements, including refinancing.

A report submitted by an Inter Ministerial Group (IMG), which was formed in March, has said that high cost of domestic capital and restrictions on ECBs have hurt the Indian shipbuilding industry.

Therefore, it has suggested that the shipyards be allowed to access ECB by the RBI, without prior government approval, for raising fresh working capital as well as refinancing of the outstanding working capital loans.

Eligibility Criteria

The IMG has also recommended further relaxation of eligibility criteria under the Shipbuilding Financial Assistance Policy (SFAP) for the defence as well as commercial shipyards.

Under the SFAP, which was approved by the Cabinet last year, Indian shipyards will be given a subsidy of 20 per cent on the contractual price of a ship, fair price or actual payments received by the shipyard, whichever is lower. The financial assistance will be valid for a 10-year period beginning April 1, 2016, reducing by 3 percentage points every three years. The government is keen to revive the Indian private shipyard industry since it has the capability and large infrastructure to undertake building of any vessel, including vessels bigger than that 1,00,000 DWT.

Time-period for pre-shipment foreign currency credit should be extended beyond 360 days till delivery of the vessel. It also recommended that Indian private shipyard should be given Right of First Refusal for all kinds of vessels, including inland vessels.

In terms of a long-term plan, the IMG has suggested routing of surplus defence orders from Defence Public Sector Undertaking (DPSUs) to private shipyards and setting up a Maritime Development Fund (MDF) to meet the financial needs of the whole of maritime sector , including ship building sector. It also said that the government departments or agencies, including PSUs that are involved in procuring vessels of any kind should grant the ‘Right of first Refusal’ (RoFR) to Indian shipyards to enable them to match the lowest rate offered by the foreign bidder.

The IMG has also recommended an RoFR Policy for construction of inland vessels. The policy will be based on the existing RoFR policy for construction of vessels for government agencies.