Sunday, September 22, 2019

Government Likely To Order 36 More Rafale Fighter Jets

Shrugging off the controversy around the previous deal, the Narendra Modi government has finalised a deal for another 36 Rafale fighter jets, according media reports

An Indian Defence Research Wing report published on Saturday said the new order will be inked in early 2020.

The Indian Air Force has recently been handed over its first Rafale aircraft from France. The official handing over will take place on October 8 when Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will be visiting France.

The purchase of another 36 Rafale fighter jets will take the fleet to 72, which will be key to bolster India's air power, particularly in the aftermath of the Balakot strike, when the IAF went deep inside Pakistan to destroy terror training camps. Ever since, both India and Pakistan have been keen to bolster their air power.

Considering India's huge defence market, official sources here say the US is impressing upon India to buy its Lockheed Martin jets. However, ever since Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman downed an F-16 flown by Pakistan, this aircraft's reputation has gone down by many notches.

Even the F-21 isn't something India is keen to procure, irrespective of the pressure from US. But the Boeing F-18, which has both a carrier as well as an Air force variant, is under consideration of the IAF along with Rafale, say sources.

SAAB's Gripen-E is out of the race, while the Russian MiG-35 and Sukhoi-Su-35 are not expected to give a tough fight to Rafale.

The IAF has decided to procure 18 Su-30MKI and 21 MiG-29 fighter jets from Russia. Upgradation of 272 aircraft of Su-30MKI fleet is also under serious consideration. The recent Russia visit of PM Modi has accelerated this process.

Dassault Aviation, the creator of Rafale, and the US' Boeing, have both extended their offers to help build India's 5th generation AMCA fighter jet, provided they win the lucrative contract to supply fighter aircraft to the Indian Air force.

Small Indian Company Makes Waves Among Navies

C2C DB Systems is tightly integrated into India‘s warship production Eco-system

Last Monday, the royal Malaysian navy cleared a combat management system that a small, but cutting-edge, Indian electronics company has developed for two of its front-line warships — the British-origin RMN frigates, KD Leiku and KD Jebat.

A warship‘s combat management system (CMS) is the brain of its combat capability.

The CMS continuously interacts with all the ship‘s sensors and weapons — including radar, sonar, missiles, rockets and torpedoes — and assesses the threats that they detect.

Then, the CMS suggests weapons to neutralise the threat; and it fires and controls those weapons.

In addition, the sophisticated CMS software collaborates with friendly warships‘s command systems over a real time datalink.

This develops a ‘common operating picture‘ for fleet operations.

Validating the truism that high-technology is mostly developed by micro, small and medium enterprises, C2C DB Systems is the only Indian firm that has developed a complete CMS, including tactical datalink capability and war fighting modules (which navies guard zealously).

For example, the Indian Navy‘s war fighting modules are developed secretly by an in-house department called the weapon and electronics engineering establishment.

The CMS‘s supporting modules are developed by companies like Bharat Electronics Ltd and Tata Power (strategic engineering division).

C2C DB Systems is based in Bangalore and has a total strength of 50, including senior management, hardware and software engineers and mechanical design engineers.

Its annual turnover is around Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million).

Yet, this small firm partnered with a Malaysian firm, Marine Crest Technologies, to wrest the tightly contested RMN contract from global competitors such as Thales of France, SAAB of Sweden and UK-headquartered BAE Systems.

RMN placed the order for the two CMSs and tactical datalink systems in April 2018, stipulating a delivery period of just nine months for the first system.

Typically, developing a similar system in India takes about two years.

With C2C DB demonstrating the complete functionality of the CMS and data-link during ‘factory acceptance trials‘ in January 2019, and the system shipped to Malaysia the next month, C2C DB Systems became the only Indian entity to have developed a complete CMS, along with a tactical data-link.

It is also the only Indian entity to have exported such a system.

The complete system was installed on board the first RMN frigate in March, after being fully integrated with the warship‘s weapons and sensors.

‘Harbour acceptance trials‘ of the tactical data-link were unconditionally cleared on Monday, while CMS trials are under way.

Next will come ‘sea acceptance trials‘ at the end of this month.

C2C DB Systems is tightly integrated into India‘s warship production Eco-system.

It has worked with WESEE to develop the complete front-end software for the CMS of India‘s first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant.

It has also done classified work for the nuclear missile submarine, INS Arihant.

ISRO Getting Ready For Next Moon Mission

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Chairman K Sivan has said that the space agency is getting ready for the next Moon mission in 2020. It's been two weeks that ISRO has lost contact with the lander 'Vikram' and efforts are being done to get in touch.

Speaking on it, Sivan said "Chandrayaan 2 mission is 98 percent successful while the scientists are working round the clock to get back the lost contact. He added that a national-level committee comprising academicians and ISRO experts are analysing the cause of the communication loss. Sivan said he is thoroughly satisfied with Chandrayaan-2's progress and the orbiter can survive another seven and half years. With the help of orbiter, we are receiving the data and taking note of them is important."

On the future projects of ISRO, Siva said an unnamed mission is in the pipeline. Discussions for this project are already underway but needs lot of deliberations before approvals. ISRO has achieved some rare feats that no space agency has ever achieved. Hope it gets the desired results in its next mission.

We Will Build A 'New' Kashmir For Everyone, Says PM Modi To Kashmiri Pandits In Houston

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a “special interaction” with a 17-member delegation of Kashmiri Pandits here and assured them of “building a new Kashmir” which would be for everyone

The delegation, which included Kashmiri Pandits from across the United States, met Prime Minister Modi on his arrival in Houston as part of his week-long visit to the U.S.

“Kashmir mein naee hava bah rahee hai [New winds are blowing in Kashmir]. We will all build a new Kashmir together that will be for everyone,” he told the delegation.

The Indian government on August 5 revoked the special status given to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories.

Mr. Modi also thanked the community for their patience for over 30 years. “I had a special interaction with Kashmiri Pandits in Houston,” Prime Minister Modi later tweeted.

Earlier, MEA Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar tweeted that the Kashmiri Pandits expressed support for the steps taken by the Indian government for the progress of India.

“In Houston, a delegation of the Kashmiri Pandit community met the Prime Minister. They unequivocally supported the steps being taken for the progress of India and empowerment of every Indian,” he tweeted.

The delegation thanked the Prime Minister for the move and said that their 700,000 community members were “indebted” to his government.

The delegation also presented a memorandum to Mr. Modi, requesting him to set up a task force under the Home Ministry to bring the community together, develop the region and repatriate Kashmiri Pandits.

Lalit Kaul from Boston and a part of the delegation, said, “It was gracious of Prime Minister Modi to meet us and acknowledge that our community has suffered a lot. His assurance that he is on the job and things will improve gave all of us renewed hope.”

Another Kashmiri Pandit delegate from New Jersey, Rakesh Kaul said that meeting Mr. Modi was important to request him to initiate steps which will address the ethnic cleansing of Kashmiri Pandits.

The Prime Minister also met a delegation of the Dawoodi Bohra community. The members felicitated him with a shawl.

“The Dawoodi Bohra community has distinguished itself across the world. In Houston, I had the opportunity to spend time with them and speak about a wide range of issues,” Mr. Modi tweeted.

The delegation members recalled Mr. Modi’s visit to Indore last year to attend a programme of their community and also highlighted his association with Syedna Sahib.

Members of the Sikh community too met Mr. Modi on his arrival in Houston.

“I had an excellent interaction with the Sikh Community in Houston. I am delighted to see their passion towards India’s development!” Mr. Modi tweeted.

The MEA spokesperson said the Prime Minister interacted with the members of the Sikh community, during which they congratulated him on some of the path-breaking decisions taken by the Indian government.

HAL Readies New Variant of Tejas Ahead of Maiden Flight

Bengaluru: The first Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter from the Final Operational Clearance (FOC) block, SP-21, is set for independent and integrated system checks at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL)’s LCA-Tejas Division.

“In aeronautical parlance, the first fighter in the FOC category is in the equipping stage of the production life cycle. We are confident of its first flight in two months,” an official said.

The proactive steps taken by HAL towards fabrication of common parts and assemblies to meet timeline requirements of Indian Air Force (IAF) have shown better results now.

The final DAL (Drawing Applicability List) for Tejas FOC variants was received during February 2019 by HAL. DAL is the standard of preparation for production that forms the basis for the final product to be delivered to the customer.

Interactions with various teams involved in the Tejas project during the recent visit of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to HAL, Onmanorama has learned that HAL is currently awaiting a crucial software upgrade from its partner Aeronautics Development Agency (ADA) for the upgraded fighters.

In the FOC block, HAL needs to manufacture 16 fighters, a task that is now expected to be completed by March 2021.

New Features

The FOC configuration of the aircraft has been evolved based on various technological improvements on the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) block of 16 fighters, now operated by IAF.

Among the key features that have been added to improve the performance are: air-to-air refuelling probe, Gsh-23 mm gun, pressure refuelling with three drop tank configuration, integration of 725 and 450 litres of drop tank, improved wing navigation lamp, in-flight wind mill relight, tandem pylon and zoom climb to name a few.

Team HAL is hopeful that the SP-21 will go for the EGR (engine ground run) during end of October, followed by the first flight.

“Our work force is currently in a home stretch, equipping SP-21 for its maiden flight,” an official said.

Manufacturing Highlights

The decision to launch common parts between IOC and FOC fighters well in advance has now showing rich dividends. The LCA-Tejas Division has now cut down the lead time for production of aircraft from 12-18 months to eight months.

“We have gained good experience during manufacturing of aircraft with IOC configuration, which is coming handy during the ongoing production of SP-21 onwards,” the official added.

HAL has incorporated many key improvements in the production line to reduce the cycle time and better quality product. They include: use of robotic drilling, reduction in PI (pre-installation checks) of LRUs (line replace units), maximising the outsourcing for detail components, outsourcing of complete major assemblies like wing and fuselage, maintainability improvement through enhanced looming cut-outs and ICY (inter-changeability) of pipes and panels and use of copper mesh on wing assembly.

Private Partnership

HAL has developed a good vendor base across India for supplying detail parts, sub-assemblies and major assemblies like complete wing and fuselage for the LCA production. Presently 45 per cent of the LCA components are being sub-contracted.

Moves are afoot to indigenise imported LRUs to further improve the private partnership in the program.

“This would enable us to increase the production rate of LCA. Out of 16 FOC strike aircraft, four are planned to be delivered by this FY (March 2020) and remaining 12 fighters will be delivered within next FY (March 2021),” says the official.

The structural build of SP-22 and SP-23 is under progress in the division, while the assembly of front, centre and rear fuselages has been completed well in time of their production.

The wing sets for both these fighters are getting fabricated in the dedicated facility and the same are expected by October and November.

Team Charged Up

The LCA-Tejas Division is a comparatively new wing of HAL and is propelled by 800 plus engineers and workmen. The visit of Rajnath Singh and his subsequent flight on Tejas trainer has lifted the morale of the team.

The appointment of Air Marshal R K S Bhadauria as the next Chief of Air Staff too has come at the right time for the LCA-Tejas Division. Air Marshal Bhadauria has seen Tejas taking baby steps and he was instrumental in the No 45 Squadron Flying Daggers moving to AFS Sulur from Bangalore, ahead of schedule.

“The inputs from No 45 Squadron (operating Tejas at AFS Sulur) have been encouraging. We have a self-motivated and dedicated team who gained expertise and technical acumen by being part of the IOC aircraft production process. This has increased the confidence of our team and we now eyeing on 83 Mk1A orders from Ministry of Defence,” says the official.

Both Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman Dr G Satheesh Reddy and HAL Chairman and Managing Director M Madhavan confirmed to Onmanorma that the 83 MK1A orders are in the final stages of completion.

They say all major issues have been sorted out barring those linked to ground equipment and other support systems.

HAL hopes that all pending issues will be sorted in the next two months and the contract will be inked during this FY itself.

INTERVIEW: DRDO Chief Is Targeting A Rapid Effort To Build Next Class of Fighter Jets

We need to concentrate on research, futuristic systems:

Dr G. Satheesh Reddy has had a fascinating first year in office as chairman of the country's premier defence research agency, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO)

After achieving the final operational clearance (FOC) of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, which made the fighter jet 'battle-worthy', and successful test of an anti-satellite missile, Reddy is now targeting a rapid, multi-pronged effort to build the next class of fighter jets. Besides developing more powerful engines and potent weaponry, the DRDO is now working on building advanced fighter aircraft.

With so many concerns about the depleting combat fleet of the Indian Air Force, the country's indigenous capability of aircraft manufacturing will be a major force multiplier. And at a time when China is aiding Pakistan to develop its next-generation fighter jet, the DRDO's fighter jet project will provide extra firepower to the Indian Air Force. In an exclusive interview to THE WEEK, India's topmost defence scientist talks of DRDO's big plans.

You have completed one year as the head of DRDO. What are the changes you have been able to bring into the field of defence research?

The first year as the head of DRDO has been very eventful for me. We are in a phase of consolidation as well as expanding into futuristic technologies in defence research at DRDO. We are converting our experience and skills into matured technologies and expanding our product range to fulfil the requirements of the three services. We could successfully demonstrate anti-satellite (ASAT) capability and became the fourth nation in the world to do so.

At the same time, I have initiated research into advanced technologies like quantum technologies, artificial intelligence, asymmetric technologies and advanced materials and sensors to have products with cutting-edge capabilities in defence. Defence technologies for space and cyber-security are other areas where we have started work in a big way. Work on indigenous air-independent propulsion systems is progressing well. Trials of the Nirbhay cruise missile, Nag missile and man-portable anti-tank guided missile and other systems have been successfully conducted in the past one year.

What were your priorities when you took over as the head of the country’s premier defence research institution? What are the challenges you faced on the road to self-reliance in defence?

As envisaged in the creation of DRDO, our priority is to meet the tri-services’ requirements through development of indigenous weapon systems. The priority areas are development of long-range surface-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, long-range radars, BMD (ballistic missile defence), directed energy weapons, Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, long-endurance UAV, guns and ammunition and so forth.

The challenges are many. First and foremost is planning and motivating the teams to embark on major futuristic projects. Reorienting the organisation to meet immediate demands, while keeping adequate focus on futuristic technologies, is another challenge. Addressing the diverse demands of the soldier in the field with available manpower and resources, and assuring the country of indigenous capability, is another challenge. But we are prepared to face the challenges. I have advised my lab directors to focus on three categories based on timelines and priorities.

The first category is research in futuristic technologies. Being an R&D organisation, we need to work on futuristic research. We need to focus on research, supported by basic research being done by the academia. This is essential for any country to progress. The second category is to pursue current technologies, which we need to work upon for the next five years, for development of weapons, systems and platforms. The third category includes projects and programs already under progress.

We have drawn a very clear road map, based on the above, for all our laboratories. This lays down targets for the next 10 years, five years and two years, respectively. All the laboratories are working to meet the targets within the given time frame.

Can you name some of the key upcoming projects of DRDO? And at what stages are those projects at the moment?

The new platform systems, into which work is being initiated, include the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), new-generation main battle tank (NGMBT), long-range radars, airborne warning and control system (AWACS), sonar suite, high-thrust aero engines, engines for wheeled platforms, underwater autonomous vehicles and hypersonic glide vehicles.

Some of the systems under advanced development include long-range surface-to-air missile, man-portable ATGM, Stand-off Anti-Tank Missile (SANT), Akash NG, advanced torpedoes and medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) for the Army. In addition, a ship-launched short-range surface-to-air missile (SRSAM) for the Navy, Astra Mk-II air-to-air missile and short-range naval anti-ship missile are also being developed.

These systems are at various stages of development and trials. The progress made in all these new systems is highly satisfactory as the technology levels in these areas have matured. Today, we are self-reliant in development of all types of missiles, EW systems, communication systems, radars and sonars.

LCA Tejas had received final operation clearance in February. At what stage is LCA Tejas?

The final operational clearance for LCA (Indian Air Force) was accorded in February 2019 and HAL, which is the designated production agency, has commenced the series production. Deliveries to the IAF are planned shortly. There are few nations in the world that have achieved this feat to make a fighter aircraft of their own. And we are one of them. It has taken about three decades of struggle.

Production and delivery of aircraft with initial operating capability has been completed and the aircraft are in operation with the Indian Air Force. HAL has also commenced production activities for Tejas trainers.

Two prototypes for the Indian Navy have also been built and are undergoing flight tests.

Can you shed some light on the Tejas Mk-II program?

Tejas Mk-II is a medium-weight fighter aircraft, which will replace the Mirage fighters. The preliminary design phase has been completed and detailed design work is in progress. It will have a higher-thrust engine compared with the LCA Mk-I.

Tejas Mk-II will be a medium-weight fighter (MWF) and its design is ready. The current Tejas weighs 6.5 tonnes and the MWF is the next class and is targeted to weigh around 17 tonnes. The Indian Air Force will be taking these aircraft in large numbers to meet its requirements. The first flight of the Mk-II will happen in 2022 and will take another five to six years to get into production. By that time, the Mirage 2000 fighters will complete their lifespan and the LCA Mk-II should get into production.

And where is AMCA (Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft) project?

AMCA is a fifth-generation twin-engine stealth aircraft. Feasibility studies have been completed and configuration has been finalised. AMCA will be initially propelled by a US-origin GE F414 engine with a thrust of over 90kN. But this will be an interim step till a higher-thrust engine of 110kN is finalised.

With the development of LCA Mk-II and AMCA, the country shall become self-sufficient in all combat aircraft in future.

Where have we reached with the DRDO's Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) program and its production and delivery schedule?

Development of ATAGS is completed. Private industry has been involved in the development of ATAGS in a big way, in tune with the ‘Make in India’ program of the government. Development trials have been completed at various places, from the deserts of Rajasthan to the heights of Sikkim.

And user trials will begin shortly. The DAC (Defence Acquisition Council) has approved production of 150 ATAGS units by industry based on the DRDO design. The production process of ATAGS is expected to start after completion of user trials.

Pakistan recently test-fired its nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ghaznavi. Has the DRDO been able to develop significant deterrence against any missile threat from Pakistan? Do we have enough indigenous BMD systems to tackle any Pakistani threat, especially under the current security scenario?

Yes, we have developed and demonstrated the ballistic missile defence system in its entirety, through both simulation and actual interception of live targets. We have adequate resources like radars and other sensors to detect and engage the emerging threats.

Both exo- and endo-atmospheric interceptor capabilities to engage targets at different altitudes have been successfully demonstrated. I would like to add here that India is one of the few countries in the world to successfully pursue a BMD program. We have taken significant strides in this domain. We have also demonstrated kinetic kill capability and all the necessary technologies needed for this have been developed indigenously, with major participation from industry. I would not comment on operational aspects, but I can assure you that we have developed the BMD system that can tackle potential threats.

And the recent success of ASAT Mission Shakti demonstrated our deterrence capability against the space-based threats.

Do you think that we have achieved enough in aircraft manufacturing technology?

Though the country will be busy with lot more technology to be developed, during three decades of developing a fighter jet, many basic technologies were developed. Today, [India] can design and configure the airframe and develop software and avionics. So, all these things are available. And, in fact, if you can make a layout of the overall configuration of an aircraft, you know where to plug in all the subsystems. We have reached that stage.

You mean to say that India has reached a higher level of aircraft development?

Yes, now onward, aircraft development will not face the same issues that we have faced during development of the Tejas. Many technologies have been developed. The ecosystem of a fighter aircraft has been developed. More so, India can also develop a commercial aircraft as well with the LCA core technologies available with us. Technologically, the basis of what is required is also with us. So, India can now manufacture commercial aircraft also. With National Aeronautics Limited and other people coming together, we should be able to do that.

Where we have reached in developing aircraft engines?

Aircraft engine is an important element that we have not developed completely for LCA. But, even if you look worldwide, engine makers are very few. Only five countries in the world produce [aircraft] engines. It means not every country has engine technologies. DRDO is now in talks with international engine houses to develop a jet engine that will be of 110Kn (kilonewton) power. So far, no such engine exists in the world.

It means the Kaveri engine is heading nowhere?

It is not being shelved.

While developing the Kaveri engine, a number of subsystems and material technologies have been developed. Today, with the backdrop of Kaveri, we are in the advanced stages of developing an engine for the Nirbhay cruise missile. A Kaveri ‘dry’ engine is also getting tested for unmanned aerial vehicles. In [making] the dry engine, we are very confident today; some ground tests are being done, which will be followed by flight tests. This is what [Kaveri] has given to us. Now, we have to work on the engine for AMCA. We are looking for partners who can work with us, nationally and internationally. It is going to be a high-power engine. We need to work on it.

What have we achieved in missile development programs?

So far, we have been able to induct the Akash and BrahMos missiles. The Akash is for both the IAF and Army and BrahMos for all the three services. The next version of the Akash is under development for the Army, along with the seeker. Already, some successful trials have happened. LRSAM (an Indo-Israeli program) is under production for the Navy and is also being delivered to the forces. Production of MRSAM for the IAF will start by the end of this year.

And what about development of our family of anti-tank guided missiles?

Trials of the Nag anti-tank guided missile are going on very successfully. It is at the user trials stage now. Then comes Helina, a helicopter-launched anti-tank guided missile, which is also going very successfully in the trials. I am sure Nag and Helina will complete their trials this year. And the man-portable anti tank guided missile (MPATGM) will also complete its trials. Here, I want to mention that industry is participating in a big way. In the Akash missiles, 85 per cent of the items by value are coming from industry to BDL.

Please shed some light on the development of radars and electronic warfare systems?

Over the years, we have become very strong in areas like developing radars. The laboratory in Bengaluru called Electronics and Radar Development Establishment is making several types of radars. You talk about radars like Akash, Revathi and Atulya. We are able to produce long-range radars also. We have also developed the capabilities for sonars. In the areas of developing towed-array sonars and decoys for submarine and ships, we are very strong. In case of development of torpedoes, the Varunastra is getting produced in numbers and is in the induction process.

In the area of electronic warfare systems, we are able to make many systems for the armed forces today, whether it is for the Navy, Army and Air Force. We are even able to develop software-defined radios for the Navy, which is using them in their ships and for airborne applications also. So, we have become stronger and are expanding our areas of expertise in multiple areas.

Where do you want to see DRDO in the years to come?

I want the roles of DRDO, industries and academia to be redefined. In the changed scenario, as the requirements (for state-of-the-art systems) are expanding and as the capabilities of all the elements are increasing, the industry should be able to take on most of the development, production and maintenance work.

The DRDO should concentrate on research and development of futuristic systems. Till now, we have [looked at] design, development, production, maintenance and everything else. It is very difficult. We need to concentrate on research for futuristic systems and handhold the industry [in the development and production side]. My endeavour is to make DRDO emerge as a futuristic technology leader in the next few years.

How Military Drones Are Becoming Deadly Weapons Across The Globe

In recent years, UAV or drones can now be programmed to destroy things remotely

by Shelley Singh

Something once equivalent of a do-it-yourself kit was enough to blow up half of Saudi Arabia’s crude oil output on September 14. The 18 low-cost drones (along with cruise missiles), supposedly deployed by Houthi rebels in Yemen to attack the Saudi oil facilities, caused oil prices to jump more than 10 per cent in a day.

In recent years, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) or drones that used to improve our daily lives with logistics and mapping support can now be programmed to destroy things remotely. What makes them lethal and effective for warfare are advancements in video-camera techniques, precision operations with improved GPS, stealth operations and faster speed. In fact, capability improvements can be seen from India’s own drone procurement and manufacturing.

Back in the 1990s, the Indian Army bought Israeli drones for recce and surveillance. But this year, an order was placed for more than 50 Harop attack drones from Israel. Meanwhile, state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and a clutch of private Indian companies are making drones and developing UAV technologies.

ALL About Military Drone
Iran Shahed_agencies
Iran's Shahed-129 and Qasef-1 drones


The software is like an auto pilot linked to onboard motors, propellers, payload activators and weapons


Security, surveillance, attack

Mach* 0.18 (222 kmph)-

Mach 1 (1,234 kmph)

*Ratio of a drone’s speed to speed of sound

Rs 50 lakh+

China's Wing Loong 1


Lithium polymer batteries, hydrogen fuel cells, jet fuel

Drones Faster Than Sound?

China's Wing Loong 1

Companies are developing hypersonic weapons — missiles that can dodge air defence system by flying up to five times faster than sound. Thus, combat drones moving at hypersonic speeds (beyond Mach 5) could bypass detection systems making them more lethal

India has a fleet of around 100 drones and it plans to add 54 Harop attack drones from Israel to enhance unmanned warfare capability. These drones have electro-optical sensors to loiter over high-value military targets like surveillance bases and radar stations before attacking them.

Project Rustom

DRDO is developing MALE drones that can travel at 200 kmph and fly at altitudes of 6,000-10,000 feet

MALE or Medium Altitude Long Endurance drone:
Can fly up to an altitude of 30,000 feet and travel over 200 km

HALE or High Altitude Long Endurance drone:
Can go beyond 30,000 feet and has a range of a few thousand

Flying Business

Likely size of Indian UAV market by 2021

$886 million

Estimated global size of market by 2021
$21 billion

Global market for drone applications by 2020
$100 billion

No. of drones operating illegally in India before 2018 rules

No. of Indian firms in drone business

Baloch, Sindhi, Pashto Groups Gather In Houston To Seek Help From Modi, Trump

Scores of members of the Balochi American, Sindhi American and Pashto American communities, who landed in Houston on Saturday, will collectively urge the leaders of India and the United States to help them get freedom from Pakistan

Representatives of Sindhi, Baloch and Pashto groups have gathered in Houston to hold a demonstration in front of the NRG stadium on Sunday to draw the attention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and US President Donald Trump for gaining freedom from Pakistan.

Scores of members of the Balochi American, Sindhi American and Pashto American communities landed in Houston on Saturday from various parts of the US to hold the first-of-its-kind demonstration in America, wherein they will collectively urge the leaders of India and the United States to help them get freedom from Pakistan.

Members of these groups alleged on Saturday that the Pakistani establishment was carrying out gross violation of human rights against their communities.

"We demand freedom from Pakistan. India and the US should help us in the same way as India had helped the people of Bangladesh in 1971," Nabi Baksha Baloch, the US representative of the Baloch National Movement, told PTI.

"We are here to request Prime Minister Modi and President Trump to support our cause. There has been gross violation of human rights against the Baloch people by the Pakistani government," he said.

More than 100 Sindhi Americans arrived in Houston on Saturday. They are planning to gather outside the NRG stadium, where the "Howdy Modi" event is scheduled to be held on Sunday, with the hope that their posters and banners of freedom will catch the attention of Modi and Trump.

"This is a historic rally by the leaders of the free world -- the largest and oldest democracies. We the people of Sindh want freedom from Pakistan. Just like India supported for the freedom of Bangladesh in 1971, we want a separate nation for the people of Sindh. Pakistan is a theocratic country," Zafar Sahito, from the Jeay Sindh Mutahida Muhaz, said.

Will Yasin Malik Meet The Same Fate As Afzal Guru For Killing 4 Indian Air Force Personnel?

Will Muhammed Yasin Malik meet the same fate as Afzal Guru who was hanged for his role in parliament attack in New Delhi? The Indian Government set in motion a 30-year-old case against Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chairman Yasin Malik which accuses him of killing four Indian Air force officials

Jammu Kashmir Liberation Front (JKLF) chief Malik is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail after being arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in a case related to the financing of terror and separatist organisations.

There are two cases against Yasin Malik. The two cases relate to the killing of four Indian Air Force officers on January 25, 1990, on the outskirts of Srinagar city and the kidnapping of then Union Home Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed’s daughter in 1989.

Two charge sheets were filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation in August and September 1990 against Malik before the designated TADA court in Jammu. Malik was granted a stay on trial by a single bench of the Jammu and Kashmir High Court in 1995 as there was no TADA court in Srinagar.

In 2008, Malik approached the special court saying the trial could be shifted to Srinagar as he was facing a lot of security problems in view of the Amarnath Yatra row — an agitation which had divided people of Kashmir and Jammu on religious lines over the issue of leasing land to outsiders during the annual pilgrimage.

The first case relates to an incident that occurred on January 25, 1990, at Rawalpora, Srinagar. The Air Force employees were fired upon by terrorists in which 40 of them, including a woman, received serious injuries and four IAF personnel were killed. On completion of the investigation, a charge sheet was filed on August 31, 1990, against Malik and five others before the designated TADA court in Jammu.

The second case relates to the kidnapping of Dr Rubaiya Sayeed who was abducted by some gun-wielding terrorists travelling in the same minibus in which she was going to her house at Nowgam. She was taken to some unknown place, where her captors threatened to kill her in case their demands were not met.

Is Yasin Malik Being Singled Out?

Experts suggest that there are many reasons why Yasin Malik could have been singled out by New Delhi. After the formation of the Joint Resistance Leadership (JRL), experts state that it was predominantly Yasin who called the shots — from formulating protest strategies, announcing programmes and carrying out other resistance activities; all this in the face of a brutal NIA crackdown and the arrest of many leaders.

Yasin Malik kept fighting and putting on a brave face, something that the BJP government was in no mood to permit. There are reports in media which suggest that covert messages were sent to him to mellow down and cut down on his activities before the Indian government finally decided to teach him a lesson.

Of the three key players in the Joint Resistance Leadership, Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq being the other two, Yasin Malik was by far the most disruptive and vociferous. New Delhi had shown great hostility to Malik’s fresh, stimulated stance and his tilt toward Pakistan.

The Indian agencies felt he Malik had ditched them after the Indian Government gave him a long rope to grow into an internationally recognised resistance leader, after the JKLF’s indefinite ceasefire which eventually led to an abdication of militancy by Malik and his organisation. The consequential decision angered many in the JRL resistance camp in Kashmir and Pakistan, putting Yasin Malik’s reputation and life at stake.

To top it all, a consistent campaign against him, especially by the Kashmiri Pandit (KP) organisations who blame him for masterminding terror campaign in the valley in the 1990s resulting in the exodus of the entire Hindu community from Kashmir. He has also been accused of killing and raping many Kashmiri Pandit women who have been vociferously demanding punishment for his heinous acts.

There is no doubt that Yasin Malik was a hard-core militant before he joined politics. He had crossed over to the Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to receive training at camps and returned to the Kashmir Valley in 1989 to create havoc.

The questions remains – Is Yasin Malik being unfairly targeted now for his anti-India stance or should the militant turned politician be brought to justice for the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel whose families still wait for justice?

India's Ordnance Factory Board Ought To Embrace Corporatisation

The decision to appoint a Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), or Permanent Chief of the Chiefs of Staff Committee, satisfies a long-standing demand of the strategic community in India

by Laxman K Behera

Elation over the decision is understandable, but the blueprint for its operationalisation would require intensive deliberation to make sure that no aspect of its implementation is left unaddressed.

Be that as it may, post the announcement of the decision, a high-powered panel has been set up by the government under the National Security Adviser (NSA) to draw up the charter of duties of the CDS and to implement the decision.1

The panel has its work cut out, not least because the expectations from the CDS are daunting. The strategic community expects him to be entrusted with the responsibility for defence planning, resource allocation, bringing about jointness, prioritisation of acquisition programmes, intelligence gathering, training, logistics, research and development, defence manufacturing, and indigenisation, with varying degree of involvement.

The three service chiefs are expected to retain the operational role, but they would be answerable to the CDS, who is most likely to have direct control over the tri-services strategic, space, cyber and special forces commands. He is also expected to spearhead military diplomacy.

In a nutshell, he would be responsible for overall defence preparedness and function as the single-point military adviser to the government.

For him to be able to discharge all, or even some of, these functions, several structural and functional changes will have to be made.

To begin with, he will need an organisational setup. This may not pose much of a problem as this need can be served by Headquarters Integrated Defence Staff (HQ IDS), which already exists since 2001. Some organisational changes will have to be made in its present set up. This should not lead to excessive expansion of HQ IDS. A lean and thin organisation, with officer-oriented work culture, will be less prone to bureaucratic lethargy.

Second, the functions to be carried out by the CDS will need to be specified unambiguously. It will be a challenge to strike the right balance between empowering the CDS sufficiently enough to discharge the functions assigned to him and overloading him with an unmanageable charter.

Depending on what roles are finally assigned, a number of functions presently being performed by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will have to be transferred to his jurisdiction. The modality of their transfer will need to be worked out to prevent disruption in work.

Third, the question of whether the manpower handling such functions in the MoD should also be transferred to HQ IDS will need careful consideration. It may not be desirable to transfer en masse the civilian staff and officers – some of them on deputation from various civil services – who for long have been accused of lack of professional knowledge, expertise and empathy required for carrying out the functions assigned to them. This is not going to change merely by bringing them under the administrative control of the CDS. They could, of course, be ‘re-educated’, but no crash courses are available for such re-education which, in any case, may not produce the desired results.

All transferred functions should ideally be carried out by the service officers/personnel but considering that it would be contrary to the ongoing restructuring of the Services Headquarters, transfer of a section of MoD’s civilian complement to the CDS set up, seems inescapable.

However, to pre-empt any consequential dysfunctionality, it would be desirable to restrict migration of the civilian staff to the secretarial level, leaving the decision-making posts to be manned by the service personnel.

Fourth, again depending on what functions are finally assigned to the CDS, he would require to interact not only with MoD – which presumably will continue to exist in some truncated form – but also with several other ministries, including External Affairs and Finance, and also with functionaries like the Cabinet Secretary, Defence Secretary, and the National Security Adviser.

The CDS may also need to interact with other organisations such as the Cabinet Committee on Security, Standing Committee on Defence, various other Parliamentary Committees, Comptroller & Auditor General, National Security Council Secretariat, Niti Ayog, and Defence Planning Committee (assuming that it will continue to function), just to mention a few.

It would be desirable to lay down protocols and standard operating procedures for such interactions to ensure smooth functioning of the new dispensation under a non-obtrusive system of checks and balances, and to pre-empt contretemps over status, authority and responsibility of various functionaries and organisations.

Fifth, since one of the most important functions of the CDS would be to build up the capability of the armed forces, the existing capital procurement system will need to be re-engineered. Among other things, this will entail redefining the role of the Capital Acquisition Wing, categorisation committees presently embedded in HQ IDS, Defence Procurement Board, and the Defence Acquisition Council.

While defining the role of CDS in regard to capital acquisitions, MoD will do well to dig out the report submitted by the committee, it had constituted in 2016, which had recommended setting up of a Defence Acquisition Organisation at an arm’s length from the ministry. If such an organisation is to be set up, it would make little sense to entrust the entire responsibility for capital acquisition to the CDS at this stage.

Sixth, irrespective of whether or not the CDS is entrusted with the responsibility for capital acquisitions, he would undoubtedly require financial powers for carrying out whatever other functions are assigned to him.

The present system of stratified delegation of financial powers under the revenue segment to the armed forces down the line, while retaining some powers in the MoD, is flawed.

Full financial powers must be delegated to the CDS and other functionaries in the armed forces. Each competent financial authority must have full financial powers to spend the allocated money for authorised activities.

The present system also requires the concurrence of the Integrated Financial Advisors (IFAs) for the exercise of delegated financial powers above a certain threshold. The IFA system is continuously pilloried, often unjustifiably, for being a hindrance in the utilisation of the allocated funds.

An objective view must be taken concerning the IFA system before the new scheme of delegation of financial powers is put in place, particularly for the CDS set up.

Lastly, the CDS is likely to face severe constraints in resource allocation as the need for funds projected by the armed forces has routinely been far higher than the budgetary allocations. The CDS is unlikely to be able to ensure higher allocations for the defence to overcome this perennial problem, which lies at the heart of the problem besetting modernisation and preparedness of the armed forces.

The scheme for implementation must, therefore, require the Ministry of Finance to indicate long-term availability of funds and the CDS to draw up defence plans within the indicated financial parameters. This could well be the biggest challenge for the CDS as he will have to withstand the pressure from the Service Chiefs, as operational commanders, for higher allocation to meet their service-specific requirement.

Much will depend on how well the blueprint for implementation of the CDS scheme is worked out by the panel. Even so, it will be good for everyone to recognise that the CDS cannot be a panacea for all problems faced by the defence establishment.

India Will Send Man In Space By 2021: ISRO Chief Sivan

ISRO chairman K Sivan Saturday said the country is moving ahead to meet its target of sending a man to space by December 2021

He asserted that though ISRO's plan to soft-land Chandrayaan-2's 'Vikram' module on the lunar surface did not go as per the script, it will have no bearing with on the 'Gaganyaan' mission.

Stating Chandrayaan-2's orbiter will give data for seven and half years, he all technologies of the moon mission have proved accurate except for the soft landing. "Is not it a success ?" he asked.

"By December 2020, we will have our first unmanned mission of human spaceplane. The second unmanned human space plane, we target for July 2021," Sivan said addressing the eighth convocation of IIT, Bhubaneswar.

"By December 2021, the first Indian will be carried by our own rocket ...This is the target ISRO is working for," he said amidst loud clapping by the audience.

The Gaganyaan mission is extremely important for India as it will boost the science and technology capability of the country. "Therefore, we are working on a new target," he said.

Sivan asked students to take calculated risks and innovate. "If you are not taking a chance, there is no chance of achieving anything significant in life. Take calculated risks. When you take calculated risks, you save yourself from problematic areas".

Stressing on innovation, he said it comes from a high level of risk and failure. "I need not tell you how many times Edison failed in inventing the light bulb or how many times ISRO failed in the launch of our launch vehicles. But this failure did not become an obstacle. We (ISRO) use these failures as learning opportunities," the ISRO chief said.

Sivan told the gathering "Dr Kalam said your dream or idea must not make you sleep. Get inspired by great leaders, but do not try to emulate them. You have to come out with original solutions and not a copy of somebody else's idea. If you want to become a Dr Kalam, do not chase his hairstyle. You follow his idea and the message he gave".

The space scientist said while the country may be perceived poor by many people it occupies the first position in the world for sending remote sensing satellites.

Despite the progress made over the last half a century, there are many unsolved issues of poverty and hunger, health and sanitation and clean drinking water, he said and called upon IITians to come forward to help solve them.

"As Gandhiji said local problems need local solutions," Sivan added.

Prof R V Raja Kumar, Director of IIT Bhubaneswar presided over the function in which degrees were conferred to 32 PhD, 105 M Tech, 67 M Sc and 152 B Tech students.

Why China Thinks Its Stealth Fighter Is Better Than the F-35

A stealth showdown is brewing. Who would win in a fight? It’s not surprising that China claims that its J-20 stealth fighter is superior to the U.S. F-22 and F-35

by Michael Peck

All nations like to claim their weapons are better than those of their adversaries (and if they don’t, it’s because they want more money for the defence budget).

But a Chinese defence magazine has gone a step further by describing how Chinese experts view the J-20 as superior to American jets in many – but not all – categories.

“While a gap remains in some respects between the J-20 and the F-22 and F-35, each has their pros and cons,” says an article in Shipboard Weapons magazine. “For example, the J-20, due to the limitations of engine performance, maybe inferior to F-22 in terms of supersonic cruise capability and super manoeuvrability, but its significantly larger body size gives it greater fuel capacity and endurance.”

The article also rates the J-20, which entered service earlier this year, as having a larger combat radius than the F-22 and thus less dependent on aerial refuelling, according to a translation by the U.S. Army’s Foreign Military Studies Office. And because the J-20 is a newer platform than the F-22, which first took flight in 1997, its electronics, situational awareness and data networking and better, and closer to the capabilities of the newer F-35.

The article also sees the J-20 as broadly comparable to the F-35, and better in some areas such as having a supercruise capability. “Compared with the F-35, whose internal weapons stores are small and which does not have supersonic cruise capability and super manoeuvrability, the J-20 has an internal weapons bay and a greater mobility advantage,” Shipboard Weapons says. “So not only are there no generational differences with the F-22 and F-35, but the J-20 also has certain advantages. They have the ability to go out in the offshore airspace during the war and perform the tasks of competing with foreign fourth-generation aircraft such as F-22, F-35, etc. to compete for air superiority and to attack enemy air, sea and land targets.”

While the West classifies aircraft such as the F-22, F-35 and J-20 as fifth generation, China categories them as fourth generation.

The J-20 will also have a specific mission in any conflict, according to Shipboard Weapons. Using its stealth capabilities, it will destroy enemy airborne early warning aircraft and aerial tankers, which would be indispensable to U.S. air operations in the Western Pacific.” Because these targets operate at ranges relatively close to the effective detection ranges of the J-20, and it is difficult to deploy air cover without gaps for these assets, once they are attacked by the J-20’s air-to-air missiles, it is unlikely that they will be able to be rescued. Whether it is an airborne early warning aircraft or an aerial tanker, the loss of one of these assets will have a very serious effect on the enemy’s entire combat system.”

Deprived of airborne radar aircraft and aerial tankers, the effectiveness of the U.S. stealth fighters will be seriously compromised, in China’s view. “If the enemy cowers in the face of the J-20 and puts the early warning aircraft and the aerial refuelling aircraft in the safe rear airspace, it will weaken the support ability for the front line forces like the F-22 and F-35 fighters, decrease mission capability and even force the front line to be pulled back,” the article says. “This also means that having the J-20 operate in forward near-seas airspace can create a favourable situation, restricting the F-22 and F-35’s range of activities and imposing limits on enemy maritime activity due to the lack of sufficient air support, greatly reducing pressure on our maritime and offshore defensive operations.”

If this is indeed China’s strategy for the J-20, it has merit. U.S. fighters do indeed rely heavily on a limited number of airborne radar and tanker aircraft, especially among the vast distances of the Pacific or over, say, Taiwan and the South China Sea.

However, the Shipboard Weapons article does gloss over a few problems. Chief among them is the J-20, an as-yet unproven design whose WS-15 engines have been plagued with reliability issues. A stealth fighter with unreliable engines would prove a poor instrument for crippling American airpower.

Jaish Facility In Balakot Bombed By IAF Jets In February Is Fully Functional Again

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Almost seven months after Indian Air Force jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, the globally proscribed group has revived the complex, where it is training 40 jihadists to carry out attacks in Jammu and Kashmir and elsewhere in India, in the garb of a new name to avoid international scrutiny, HT has learnt.

The development, with the blessings of Pakistan, follows India’s August decisions to revoke Article 370 of the constitution, stripping Jammu and Kashmir of its special status, and bifurcate the state into two Union territories — J&K and Ladakh.

Islamabad relaxed restrictions over terror groups targeting India after August 5, when the Indian government pushed through the moves on Kashmir, and on the eve of the “Leaders dialogue on strategic responses to terrorism and violent extremism” at the United Nations General Assembly on September 23. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will speak at the conference, followed by Microsoft Corp CEO Satya Nadella and others.

On February 27, IAF fighters flew deep into Pakistan to bomb the Markaz Syed Ahmad Shaheed facility at Balakot in Manshera, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in reprisal for a February 14 suicide car bombing in J&K’s Pulwama that killed 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force in the deadliest single attack in 30 years of insurgency. Tensions between the subcontinental neighbours escalated as a result.

According to Indian counter-terror operatives, anti-India terror groups that have kept a low profile following Pulwama and its aftermath were reactivated after August 5 with JeM operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Asghar meeting his handlers in the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s spy agency, the very next day in Rawalpindi to formulate a jihadist response to the Indian moves on Kashmir.

Intelligence inputs indicate that JeM may target not only Jammu and Kashmir but also Gujarat and Maharashtra under a new name to avoid international scrutiny. Pakistan-based terror groups have been asked to use Kashmiri- origin terrorists and,in this context, are also reviving dormant groups like the Al Umnar Mujahideen led by Mushtaq Zargar alias Latram.

Pakistan watchers say that the Jaish has started advanced “daura tarbiya” courses for 50 jihadists in Markaz Subhan Allah and Markaz Usman-o-Ali in Bahawalpur, with the Peshawar and Jamrud facilities also being activated for action in Kashmir. Daurya tarbiya is a religious programme designed to radicalise a recipient and a precursor to weapons and subversive training.

Refresher courses have been started by the terror group in its camps in Manshera, Gulpur and Kotli with the Balakot facility being reactivated for jihad training for the first time after the Indian air strike. The reactivation of the Balakot facility has been confirmed by the Indian national security establishment and the highest levels of government have been informed.

While Jaish has intensified its recruitment drive for Kashmir action in places like Charsada, Mardan and Swabi of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa , the terror group, headed by the now terminally ill global terrorist Masood Azhar, has decided to divert its cadre from the Afghanistan front to J&K in a phased manner.

According to intelligence reports, around 100 Jaish cadre are waiting at launch pads across the Poonch and Rajouri sectors at Neelum/Leepa Valley with the focus of planned attacks on Jammu and not Srinagar. Inputs reveal that Mufti Asghar on August 11 itself had instructed his cadre in Sialkot to focus on the army cantonment in Jammu as well as security force convoys plying on the national highway.

“We have reports about Jaish fidayeen (suicide attackers) waiting for lifting of full telecom restrictions in the state to infiltrate and launch attacks,” said a national security official on condition of anonymity.

In Jaish’s Madina Madina fortnightly magazine, Talha Saif, on behalf of Masood Azhar, criticised the leaders of some Muslim countries for coming under the influence of the United States, and simultaneously urged Indian Muslims to rise against the Narendra Modi government.

Rawalpindi’s other terror arm, the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) , has reactivated its terror camps post the revocation of Article 370, including aquatic facilities at Mangla in Mirpur and Head Maral in Sialkot while its leader Hafeez Saeed is in custody in Lahore.

According to available inputs, Lashkar has started a two-month-long refresher course at its Manshera camp in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa while its second line leadership, led by Saeed’s son Talha, is advocating jihad in Kashmir through sermons and video messages.

The third group, Hizbul Mujahideen, has also been activated after its leaders met ISI handlers on August 26 and tasked with infiltrating its cadre across the Gurez sector.

US Welcomes Imran's 'Unambiguous' Statement Warning Pakistanis Against Going To Kashmir For Jihad

Khan has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address to the UNGA on September 27 after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status last month

WASHINGTON: The US has welcomed Prime Minister Imran Khan's "unambiguous and important" statement warning Pakistanis against going to Kashmir to wage jihad, but Washington also sought "sustained commitment" by Islamabad to rein in all terrorist groups that is critical to maintain regional stability.

The statement by United States Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for South and Central Asian Affairs, Alice Wells, came days ahead of Prime Minister Khan's visit to New York for the United Nations General Assembly, where he is expected to meet US President Donald Trump and fresh Indo-Pak tensions over Kashmir.

"Applaud PM @ImranKhanPTI's unambiguous & important statement that militants from Pakistan who would carry out violence in Kashmir are enemies of both Kashmiris & Pakistan. We agree."

"Pakistan's sustained commitment to counter all terrorist groups is critical to reg.stability," Wells tweeted on Thursday, a day after Khan warned Pakistanis not to go to Kashmir to fight jihad, saying it will hurt the cause of the Kashmiris.

"Anyone going from here will give them (India) the pretext to blame Pakistan for cross-border terrorism and infiltrating terrorists," Khan said, adding that India has previously accused Pakistan of cross-border terrorism.

"The entire world's attention was drawn towards us, Pakistan. Now India is stuck."

"And the pressure is building up day by day," Khan told the media after inaugurating the Torkham Terminal at Pak-Afghan border on Wednesday.

"Now this is what I am going to say: anyone making any such attempt (to cross over into Kashmir to fight) would be an enemy of Pakistan as well as an enemy of Kashmiris," he was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper.

Khan has already announced that he will highlight the Kashmir issue in his address to the UNGA on September 27 after India revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status last month.

He said he will "forcefully present the Kashmir issue like never before" at the UN General Assembly session next week.

The tension between India and Pakistan escalated after New Delhi revoked Jammu and Kashmir's special status on August 5.

Reacting sharply to India's decision on Kashmir, Pakistan downgraded diplomatic ties with New Delhi and expelled the Indian High Commissioner.

Asserting that abrogation of Article 370 was its internal matter, India has strongly criticised Pakistan for making irresponsible statements and provocative anti-India rhetoric over issues internal to it.

US Sending More Troops To Gulf, Trump Announces Iran Sanctions

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength

WASHINGTON: The United States announced Friday that it was sending military reinforcements to the Gulf region following attacks on Saudi oil facilities that it attributes to Iran, just hours after President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on Tehran.

Trump said the sanctions were the toughest-ever against another country, but indicated he did not plan a military strike, calling restraint a sign of strength.

The Treasury Department renewed action against Iran's central bank after US officials said Tehran carried out weekend attacks on rival Saudi Arabia's oil infrastructure, which triggered a spike in global crude prices.

Those attacks, combined with an Iranian attack on an American spy drone in June, represented a "dramatic escalation of Iranian aggression," Secretary of Defence Mark Esper said.

The Pentagon chief announced that the United States would send military reinforcements to the Gulf region at the request of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

"In response to the kingdom's request, the president has approved the deployment of US forces, which will be defensive in nature, and primarily focused on air and missile defence," Esper said.

However Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford categorised the deployment as "moderate," with the number of troops not expected to reach the thousands. Earlier in the day Trump attacked both critics who thought the mogul-turned-president would trigger war and hawks seeking a military response.

"The easiest thing I could do (is) knock out 15 different major things in Iran," Trump said.

"But I think the strong-person approach and the thing that does show strength would be showing a little bit of restraint," he said. Trump in June authorised a military strike after Iran shot down the US spy drone, only to call it off at the last moment.

Saudi Arabia on Friday revealed extensive damage from the strikes on state giant Aramco's facilities in Khurais and the world's largest oil processing facility at Abqaiq.

The attacks, which knocked out half of Saudi Arabia's oil production, have been claimed by Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels, but Washington has pointed its finger at Tehran, condemning the strikes as an "act of war." Abqaiq was struck 18 times while nearby Khurais was hit four times in a raid that triggered multiple explosions and towering flames that took hours to extinguish, Aramco officials said.

Aramco flew dozens of international journalists to the two sites to show it was speeding up repairs, giving rare access to the nerve centre of the world's largest oil producer as it seeks to shore up investor confidence ahead of a planned initial public offering (IPO).

Meanwhile, Yemen's Huthi rebels, who have repeatedly targeted key Saudi infrastructure in recent months in cross-border attacks, unexpectedly announced late Friday that they planned to halt all strikes on the country.

The move, they said, was part of a peace initiative to end their country's devastating conflict which has killed tens of thousands of people -- most of them civilians -- and driven millions more to the brink of famine. Iran denies US and Saudi accusations that it arms the Huthis.

The United States already maintains sweeping sanctions on Iran including on its central bank, with anyone who deals with it subject to prosecution, due to Tehran's alleged nuclear program.

But the new sanctions Friday were imposed for the additional reason of "terrorism," Treasury said, adding that Iran's central bank had provided "billions of dollars" to two groups blacklisted by the United States. "Treasury's action targets a crucial funding mechanism that the Iranian regime uses to support its terrorist network, including the Qods Force, Hezbollah and other militants that spread terror and destabilise the region," US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

The Qods Force conducts international operations for Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards, while Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group and political party in Lebanon, is among Iran's closest regional partners. Iran responded that the move showed that the United States was running out of options.

The United States also imposed sanctions on Iran's sovereign wealth fund, whose board of trustees includes President Hassan Rouhani, as well as Etemad Tejarate Pars, a company that the Treasury Department said had sent money internationally on behalf of Iran's defence ministry.

Trump recently said that he hopes for talks with Rouhani, who responded that Trump must first ease sanctions.

Last year Trump pulled out of a nuclear accord with Iran negotiated under former president Barack Obama, sending tensions soaring as he tried to stop all countries from buying Iran's oil.