Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Break-In Attempted At IAF Rafale Project Management Team In Paris, Defence Ministry Briefed


An attempted break-in at the Indian Air Force Rafale Project Management Team in a suburb of Paris in France was foiled on Sunday night.

Notably, this happened in the presence of an Indian team in France, headed by a Group Captain rank officer to oversee the 36 Rafale aircraft production and training of Indian personnel, news agency ANI quoted sources, as saying.

The Ministry of Defence has already been briefed about the incident. However, no official statement has yet been made by the ministry.

(More details to follow)



Policy | India Must Move Out of The Crossfire Between Russia’s S-400 And US’ THAAD


India’s rationale for buying the S-400 is solid, however, it is imperative that New Delhi reaches out to Washington and clarifies its position

by Abhijit Iyer-Mitra

In response to India’s purchase of the S-400 missile system from Russia, the United States has counter-offered the Theatre High Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) missile to India. On the face of it this would seem like a simple commercial counter, but a deep dive shows the US is misreading Indian intentions very badly, something that does not bode well for the bilateral relationship as it reflects a severe communication gap, as well as a lack of analytical rigour in Washington.

The S-400 is formidable. Its long range (up-to 400 Km depending on the missile chosen) means that even when stationed a 100 km inside Indian territory, it can take down planes up to 300 Km in Pakistani territory. Due to this the Indian Air Force believes that the S-400 is the most potent system it can buy against the F-16 and other US fighters — especially given its stellar role in Syria, where after the initial shoot down of Russian fighters by Turkey, the deployment of the S-400 deterred any further Turkish misadventures.

Sadly that is only half the story, with the other half being, the ability of NATO aircraft and cruise missiles to infiltrate Syrian airspace at will, fooling the S-400. Moreover, it cannot integrate comprehensively into India’s mix of western and eastern equipment. Clearly, then the F-16 deterrence story isn’t the full picture.

What the US fails to understand is that the deal has been signed under duress, the duress of not buying enough from Russia, after India cancelled its participation in the ill-fated (and atrociously designed and built) Su-57 program. This was a major blow to Russian industry, given that it was counting on India to buttress its flagging sales, but on the other hand India could simply not digest a badly designed product that would have been obsolete even before it entered production.

Consequently, the only solution was the buy a product that was deemed suitable to the Indian military. However, as discussed above, the S-400 has at best a mixed record in Syria. So why was it considered suitable when the Su-57 fighter was not?

This brings us to the third and only plausible explanation. The purchase was not done entirely to use the missile against adversaries, but rather to understand its capabilities thoroughly, simulate how to go up against it, how to jam it and to understand what its limitations are. As such its main use will be testing the Rafale’s ability to penetrate Chinese airspace guarded by the system. In this, it is money well spent as it fulfils our quota with Russia, and indirectly meets our requirements, as it prevents several billions of dollars’ worth of our aircraft and missiles being shot down by the Chinese.

It is in understanding this complex and multi-causal problem that the THAAD offer seems off mark. For starters, THAAD is an anti-ballistic-missile (ABM) system that the S-400 is not optimised for (despite what its sales brochure says). Second, the Americans failed to understand Indian political compulsions regarding the purchase. Third, they seem to have missed the opportunity for using the purchase as an excuse to supply complementary systems that will help India deal with the Chinese S-400 menace, instead offering us a competing system that leads to duplication, and answers a requirement that India has not put out.

It is imperative then that India reaches out to the US and clarifies its position in a spirit of cooperation rather than the usual diffidence that much of our JNU-trained bureaucracy display towards ‘western imperialists’.

What has to be kept in mind here is that the S-400 is a potent enough system to significantly sour bilateral ties with the US. After all the S-400 is one of the reasons that Turkey’s participation in the F-35 programme has been halted; and Turkey, unlike India, is a privileged NATO ally.

India’s rationale for buying the S-400 is solid, however, diplomatic diffidence cannot be allowed to poison the well. The ball, therefore, lies in India’s court to explain how the S-400 purchase serves common goals, and suggest avenues of cooperation complementary to the S-400, rather than competing with it.


Budgam Friendly Fire: Should Charge of Culpable Homicide Be On The Table In The Fog of War?


A senior IAF officer and 3 other personnel could be booked for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” in the February Mi-17 helicopter downing

A senior Indian Air Force (IAF) officer and three other personnel of the Srinagar Air Base could be booked for “culpable homicide not amounting to murder” in the 27 February downing of an Mi-17 helicopter that killed six IAF personnel and a civilian. The Mi-17 chopper, which crashed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Budgam district, was reportedly a result of a friendly fire.

ThePrint asks: Budgam friendly fire: Should charge of culpable homicide be on the table in the fog of war?

Societies That Understand War & Conflict Have Taken Fratricide In Their Stride: Arjun Subramaniam - Retd Air Vice Marshal And Visiting Professor, Ashoka University

The deafening noise over the IAF Mi-17 crash possibly in a friendly fire will likely die down once the IAF releases adequate information on what went wrong on the morning of 27 February.

Casualties due to friendly fire or fratricide is among the most tragic occurrences in war, sub-conventional operations or even less-than war situations.

It occurs due to a variety of reasons – decision dilemmas that lead to error in judgement, negligence and panic, or just the impact of the ‘fog of war’.

Highly trained special forces, crack snipers, ace fighter pilots and air defence gunners are among those who have brought down their own comrades and aircraft. Societies that understand war and conflict have taken such aberrations in their stride, an aspect that we seem to have failed to understand.

Accountability and taking responsibility have always been a part of the justice cycle in case of such aberrations, but we must never forget that those who made the mistake will have to live with their errors in judgement for the rest of their lives.

Culpable homicide is alright if negligence and carelessness caused the friendly fire, but for anything else, we need to spare a thought for the guilty just as we need to remember that those who were downed were doing their duty in the line of fire.

While Culpable Homicide Not Amounting To Murder Is Too Harsh A Charge, The Act Does Deserve Punishment: SY Savur - Air Marshal (Retd)

There is a proper procedure that has to be followed before a helicopter is shot down. Personnel on the ground have to necessarily authenticate the identity of the individual in the aircraft by asking the codes. We don’t know whether the standard operating procedure was followed.

It doesn’t really matter if they were under attack by any enemy at that point. If they weren’t, then they had all the time to follow that procedure to a T. Helicopter would not have been airborne if airfield was under attack. They have allowed it to be airborne precisely because the region was not under attack. But whatever the case, the Court of Inquiry must establish whether or not standard operating procedure was followed. If it wasn’t, then a severe punishment must be meted out to the guilty. While culpable homicide not amounting to murder is still too harsh a charge, the act does deserve punishment.

In Air Force, no decision is in the heat of the moment, so that argument doesn’t hold. The only time a pilot makes a decision in the heat of the moment is when an enemy aircraft is in front. It couldn’t have been an enemy aircraft, because it takes hardly a minute or two to identify if the aircraft is enemy or not. It is impossible that someone would have misidentified a helicopter for an enemy helicopter. Perhaps everyone forgot to follow the procedure. But my guess is that the Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) was not working, or they had never used it before.

There Could Have Been Procedural Lapse On Either Side – Those Who Fired Or Those Who Were Fired Upon: SBP Sinha - Air Marshal (Retd)

The court of inquiry is still on and there is a lot that is yet to be revealed.

The court of inquiry has to analyse whether the procedures were followed or not – not only by the people who were firing, but also those who were fired at. The latter too were bound by certain procedures.

It is being speculated that, in all probability, this is a case of fratricide, which happens often in the fog of war. But all of this is based purely on conjecture – and we are talking about people who have lost their lives. It’s a very sensitive matter.

If this is a case of fratricide, then culpable homicide not amounting to murder is the correct charge – but we must also look at the intent here. The firing took place in a situation when the nation was under attack, and so it could very well have been a case of misidentification.

Is it a case of misidentification because procedures were not followed either by those in the helicopter or by those on ground, or it is just a result of an incorrect decision taken in the heat of the moment?

The pensions of the those who lost their lives will be governed by the result of the Court of Inquiry. This will happen only in a time-bound manner and not until the inquiry findings are declared. So, there a number of issues at stake here – beyond how the aircraft was hit.

Mi-17 Chopper Downing Was An Error In Judgement, Not An Act Led By A Criminal Thought: Manmohan Bahadur - Air Vice-Marshal (Retd)

It is true that there must have been a serious lack of coordination, that led to the Mi-17 chopper crash. The inquiry is precisely to ascertain what led to such a grave lapse of judgement. The crash caused the death of six IAF personnel and a civilian. Even in the fog of war, how the officers mistook the aircraft as being the enemy’s, is an important question that must be raised.

This is why responsibility must be fixed, and blame apportioned. But, the charge of culpable homicide sounds too harsh. Punishment awarded shouldn’t be such that it becomes a hindrance in the decision making abilities of any officer in the future. Officers should be able to trust their discretion and make decisions accordingly; this will surely weigh in the minds of the authorities when a final call is taken.

This was an error in judgement, but it was certainly not a criminal thought that led to it. It is undeniable that the incident was a professional failure, and bad for optics — but culpable homicide may not be the right punishment for it.

That said, the procedural lapses should indeed be looked into and we must ensure they never happen again. For that to happen, we need to conduct a serious investigation into the incident. Results of this investigation will reveal further details. The legality of it, is of course, an entirely different domain.

IAF Officer Can’t Be Booked For Culpable Homicide When Decision Was Taken In Split Second: Snehesh Alex Philip - Senior Associate Editor For Defence, ThePrint

“Shit happens” is what a top uniformed officer told me on 27 February when I called up to confirm a source-based information that the Mi-17 chopper was shot down by an Indian missile.

Yes, a lot happens in the fog of war and friendly fire is a bane across nations. However, even the thought of booking officials for culpable homicide not amounting to murder is stretching it a bit too far.

Yes, the family needs closure and the people responsible for the death of six IAF personnel and one civilian should face the music. There is no doubt about it.

While the Court of Inquiry probing into the entire incident is yet to submit its report, it is more or less established that the chopper was indeed shot down in friendly fire.

Sad is the fact that the pilot was in touch with the Air Traffic Control seconds before his chopper was hit by Israeli air defence system Spyder.

There is no doubt that coordination was missing but then people cannot be booked for culpable homicide not amounting to murder when a decision was taken in split second to shoot down an approaching flying object which was not identified as own.

Just imagine the consequences if there was a delay in decision-making and it was a Pakistani armed drone instead of the Mi-17 chopper. The havoc it could have created in such a crucial air base would be unimaginable.


Why IAF May Not Consider Lockheed Martin's Only-For-India F-21 Jet Deal


The Defence giant Lockheed Martin is trying to make this deal sound interesting for India, but it still has to face a stiff competition from other manufacturers based out of the US, Europe and Russia who are also pitching their latest fighter jet for this mega-deal

New Delhi: To bag one of the world's biggest military procurement deal of 114 jets worth around $ 18 billion, the US-based firm Lockheed Martin has offered to give India an exclusive deal. Lockheed Martin has said that its new offering is that the F-21 fighters which are also customised as per Indian requirements will not be sold to any other nation if the Indian Air Force (IAF) places the order of 114 jets with them. 

The Defence giant Lockheed Martin is trying to make this deal sound interesting for India, but it still has to face a stiff competition from other manufacturers based out of the US, Europe and Russia who are also pitching their latest fighter jet for this mega-deal.

In an interview to PTI, Vivek Lall, vice president of Strategy and Business Development for Lockheed Martin said the new combat jet is designed to operate across over 60 air force stations in India, and its key aspects include superior engine matrix, electronic warfare system and weapons carrying capacity.

"We will not sell this platform and the configuration to anyone in the world. It is a significant commitment by Lockheed Martin, and it shows the importance of India and the importance of the unique requirement India has," he said.

Lockheed Martin had recently, during the Aero India show in February, had unveiled the F-21 multi-role fighter, designed especially for India. The company has already announced that it will not only set up a state-of-the-art F-21 manufacturing facility along with the Tata Group but will also help India create an ecosystem for the overall growth of the country's defence manufacturing. The jet at that point of time was on the drawing board. 

Despite announcing an attractive deal it won't be easy for the US manufacturer to crack the contract. Experts have already pointed out that the new offering F-21 shares many of its major features with the F-16V the company has sold to Bahrain, Greece, Slovakia, South Korea and Taiwan. Its rival and another US aerospace major Boeing during Aero India took a potshot at Lockheed Martin. Looking to mock Lockheed Martin's new F-21 aircraft, which many consider a renamed version of its F-16, Boeing tweeted, "Combat Proven, Future Ready, and still called the F/A-18 Super Hornet.

Another roadblock ahead of the company in selling their fighter jet to India is that one of their best-selling jets F-16 operates with the Pakistani Air Force and is the biggest adversary to the Indian Air Force fighter jets. However, changing the name and making India specific jets can change the game for them. 

Some experts also pointed out Lockheed Martin will also have to face difficulties in justifying how IAF's vintage Russian jet smoked their F-16 sold to Pakistan. A recent aerial dog fight between IAF wing commander Abhinandan Varthaman in his ancient MiG-21 bison against PAF F-16 will not be forgotten for many years. 

On observation that the F-21 is similar to Lockheed's F-16 Block 70 combat jet, Lall said such a view is unfair as there have been significant differences between the two platforms. F-21 is different in terms of various aspects including its airframe, weapons capability, engine matrix and availability of engine options.

"As for example, you are now looking at 12,000 hours of service life airframe in F-21 versus 8,000 hours previously (F-16 Block 70). The additional 40 per cent weapons carrying capability is new in F-21 which was not there in F-16 Block 70. The electronic warfare system is uniquely developed for India," he added.

"Looking from a distance may make it look similar to F-16 Block 70, but it is different," he added.

Besides having a traditional boom-delivered refuelling facility, the F-21 also has an extendable hose-and-drogue refuelling probe.

"This is the only fighter in the world which has both the capabilities," said Lall, adding the cockpit also has a new large area display.

"It is a modern cockpit and has a significant piece of ability to synthesise information. These are unique capabilities that we are not offering to other countries in the world," said the Lockheed executive.

The jet has a Long-Range Infrared Search and Track (IRST), enabling pilots to detect threats with precision and Triple Missile Launcher Adaptors (TMLAs) allowing it to carry 40 per cent more air-to-air weapons.

This is the second time Lockheed Martin is trying to compete for an Indian Air Force order. The company had earlier fielded the F-16 Block 70 for the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft requirement put out by the Indian Air Force. 


As India Focuses On Defence Exports, GRSE Looks To Engage Customers


GRSE, which recently delivered the 100th warship to be constructed here, has constituted special teams for its overseas efforts. A survey of Anti-Submarine warfare(ASW) Corvette named 'Kadmatt' built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Limited(GRSE).

by Manu Pubby

KOLKATA: As India is focusing on stepping up defence exports, premier defence shipyard Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) is looking to engage customers in the region and has been in conversation with nations such as the Philippines for major potential orders in the near future.

GRSE, which recently delivered the 100th warship to be constructed here, has constituted special teams for its overseas efforts and is pursuing an order for two new corvettes that are required by the Philippines as part of a competitive selection process. “There is a lot of thrust on exports and we are approaching friendly foreign countries in the South East region, in west Asia and Latin American countries. Discussions are on and our teams have been going to meet customers,” GRSE's CMD Rear Admiral Vipin Kumar Saxena (Retd) told ET. The yard, which constructed the first ever warship exported by India, the MCG Barracuda to Mauritius, says that it will be competitive with global players as it has the experience of delivering different classes of ships to the Indian Navy and coast guard and has won domestic orders in competitive bidding.

“Our aspiration is to be a global player. We have the capability and the experience. At the same time, there is huge potential here when it comes to the Navy and coast guard. The maritime perspective plan for 2027 aspires for a potent blue water force and a fleet that will grow to 200-odd ships,” the CMD says.


The shipyard’s plans are in line with renewed efforts of the government to increase exports by effective utilisation of the defence lines of credit extended to friendly foreign countries. In April, the ministry finalised the standing operation procedure to enhance the pace of utilisation of the lines of credit to boost exports.India has announced lines of credit to nations like Vietnam and Myanmar in the recent past. For starters, the SOPs have been laid down for defence public sector units but will later be extended to the private sector as well that are looking at the export market.

On the domestic front, GRSE, which went public late last year, is on a strong footing, with as many as eight warships delivered in a span of 22 months. Its order book remains strong with the recent anti-submarine warfare shallow water craft deal signed with the navy for Rs 6,311 crore. The order was won on a competitive basis against the private sector yards.

GRSE says that it managed to underbid more modern private yards due to its experience in cost determination. “In 34 months, we would have delivered almost 15 ships, that is the speed we are looking it. Our biggest thrust has been to come out of the earlier mindset – in terms of build time and more and we have come a long way,” Rear Admiral Saxena says.

The yard currently has six ongoing projects and believes it is strongly placed for upcoming orders such as the Next Generation Missile Vessels requirement of the Indian Navy.


PAK SCAN: Implications of India’s Nirbhay Cruise Missiles


by Syeda Saiqa Bukhari

India has always exhibited hegemonic tendencies and sought to dominate the South Asian region. It also entertains ambitions to become one of the major powers in the region and beyond. Driven by its designs for regional and global hegemony, India has set up several missile development programmes. On April 15, it carried out a successful test of its indigenously developed long range sub sonic stealth cruise missile Nirbhay which is capable of reaching its target with a speed of 864.36 kilometres per hour flying at an altitude of 100 metres.

The Nirbhay has been developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation of India. Its operational range is 1,000 kilometres and it is guided by an indigenously developed advanced inertial navigation system. The INS allows Nirbhay to be fairly accurate.

The missile is designed to carry nuclear or conventional warheads of 300 kilogram to 400 kilogram. According to the Indian Ministry of Defence, the test was conducted to prove the repeatability of both the boost phase and the cruise phase using way point navigation at very low altitudes.

Nirbhay missiles can fly at various altitudes, mostly ranging from 500 metres to 4 kilometres above the ground. The low altitude flight reduces the chances of detection by an adversary radar system. The cruise missile comes with a loitering ability

It was reported to have hit the designated target following 42 minutes and 23 seconds in flight. Nirbhay can be launched from diverse platforms including aircraft, ground-based vehicles or launchers, ships and submarines. The DRDO is on course to test an air-launched version of Nirbhay in 2 to 3 years.

Nirbhay missiles can fly at various altitudes, mostly ranging from 500 metres to 4 kilometres above the ground. The low altitude flight reduces the chances of detection by the adversary radar system. The cruise missile comes with a loitering ability which means that it can go around a target and perform several manoeuvres before re-engaging the target. In other words, once the missile is above the target and put on a ‘loiter’ pattern, the launch in charge can decide to strike or allow it to self-destruct.

The missile has the capability to enter deep into adversary territory area and engage targets with high precision. The April test is the second successful flight of Nirbhay since November 2017. India started the Nirbhay program in 2004. It was initially meant to be completed in 2016 but some technological issues (flight control software and navigation system) delayed the project. Before the 2017 test, there were four unsuccessful trials. India can use Nirbhay to target military targets in enemy territory with little collateral damage.

An important aspect of the test is its timing. The trial comes in an environment of high tensions between India and Pakistan. Polling in the general elections is already under way. Preemption is a core element of Indian joint armed forces doctrine of 2017 and land warfare doctrine of 2018. The Nirbhay missile allows for the possibility of a limited war with Pakistan.

Pakistan’s Ukraine supplied subsonic cruise missile, Babur, is compatible with Nirbhay.

The test has aggravated the crisis between the two nuclear armed states. It is the latest in a series of weapon development projects including anti-satellite ballistic missile, Electronic Management Intelligence Satellite and the Dhanush artillery gun. These developments point to an Indian bid to further escalate the military tensions with Pakistan.

Meanwhile the Indian political elite led by Prime Minister Modi is trying to exploit hatred against Pakistan for electoral gain. The test also indicates that India is trying to enhance its first strike capability vis-à-vis Pakistan thus abandoning the ‘no first use’ policy.

In the South Asian context, the rivalry between India and Pakistan has played a crucial role in shaping security dynamics of the region. Pakistan’s major security threats emerge from India.

Its nuclear weapons and missile programmes are meant to provide deterrence against India. Nirbhay can destabilise the strategic equilibrium in South Asia and be a hurdle to any peace initiative in the region. Such developments can trigger a cruise missiles race between India and Pakistan.


Why Pakistanis Don’t Want Pm Narendra Modi To Return 

IAF had conducted precise air strikes on JeM terror targets deep inside Pakistan

Presumably panicked by Balakot strikes, most Pakistanis are voicing their reservations about the return of a Modi-led govt. “He shouldn’t come to power, he carried out surgical attacks in Pakistan...,” Shahi Alam, a Lahorite, told a Pakistan TV channel. Pak PM Imran Khan had said there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if Modi won the elections

AMRITSAR: The outcome of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls on May 23 is being watched with great keenness in neighbouring Pakistan. The interest in Pakistan is not surprising given the cross-border tension between the two countries and that many people in that country have familial links in India. 

Presumably panicked by the Indian Air Force’s surgical strikes on terror camps inside Pakistan, most Pakistani nationals are voicing in interviews on social media their reservations about the return of an NDA government led by Narendra Modi. 

“He shouldn’t come to power, he carried out surgical attacks in Pakistan...,” Shahi Alam, a Lahorite, told a Pakistan TV channel. 

Another person, Aizaz, added, “I doubt Modi will come back with a majority. I am sure he will get a fractured mandate and that is good for Pakistan.”

Some months ago, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had said there may be a better chance of peace talks with India if Prime Minister Narendra Modi won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. 

Riaz, a London-based Pakistan businessman, told TOI over the phone: “People living in Pakistan have different views from those of Pakistanis living abroad. We are of the view that Modi should come back to power in India. At least it will act as a deterrent to terrorist organisations operating from Pakistani soil and pressure the Pakistan government to eradicate terrorism from our motherland.”


India Monitors Network of Islamic State In Bangladesh


A Bangladeshi national, who recruited members for IS in the neighbouring country, has been traced in Iraq jail. Ozaki was born in a Hindu family of Bangladesh and later converted to Islam when he was studying abroad on a scholarship

NEW DELHI: India is keeping close tabs on the network of Islamic State not only in Sri Lanka but also in Bangladesh following the recent arrest of kingpin for IS recruits in the neighbouring country.

A Bangladeshi national Saifullah Ozaki, who recruited members for the IS in Bangladesh and encouraged them to visit Iraq and Syria, has been traced in a jail in Sulaimaniyah in Iraq following defeat of the IS in that region, persons familiar with the developments told ET. Nine Bangladeshi nationals, including Ozaki, have either surrendered or arrested after the fall of the last Syrian ISIS (Islamic State) hideout in Baghouz. Earlier, several family members of Ozaki were killed by local security forces in their operations against the IS in the Iraq-Syria region.

A significant section of the Bangladeshis who joined ISIS were recruited by Ozaki from various cadet colleges (run by military) across the neighbouring country, one of the persons quoted claimed. Ozaki extensively used Facebook to spread IS ideology and maintained an account titled 'Ex-cadet Islamic Learning Forum' to inspire his recruits, ET has learnt. There are 12 cadet colleges across Bangladesh.

The growing presence of IS, its sympathisers and network in the neighbourhood -- Sri Lanka and Bangladesh -- are being closely monitored by India, ET has learnt. Unlike Sri Lanka, security agencies in Bangladesh have been closely coordinating and working with their Indian counterparts in countering cross-border terror and extremist cells.

The Sheikh Hasina government has zero tolerance for terror and has cracked down on ISI-sponsored terror networks and maintains a constant vigil over the extremist hideouts, sources from Dhaka told ET speaking on the condition of anonymity. After the terror attack on Holey Artisan Bakery in downtown Dhaka in 2016, the Hasina government further strengthened its security apparatus to crack down on extremists.

In fact, the country's foreign minister has warned that the UK's runaway IS bride Shamima Begum of Bangladeshi origin will be hanged for supporting terrorism if she visits Bangladesh. Foreign minister Abdul Momen had recently said that the 19-year-old, girl who fled Bethnal Green area in London for Syria and is currently living in the al-Hol desert refugee camp in Syria, would be punished severely as the country has a "zero tolerance" towards terrorism.

Ozaki was born in a Hindu family of Bangladesh and later converted to Islam when he was studying abroad on a scholarship.


Arunachal Attack: Army Launches Operation, Forces Rushed


A senior police official in Itanagar stated this while adding that additional forces have also been sent to Khonsa and adjoining areas to nab the culprits behind the killing.

While 11 persons were killed, two security personnel received serious bullet injuries and a woman escaped unhurt, police said.

The Army on Tuesday launched a massive operation in and around Khonsa in Arunachal Pradesh where suspected militants ambushed the convoy of sitting MLA Tirong Aboh, killing him and 10 others, including his minor son, two personal security officers (PSOs) and some of his relatives.

A senior police official in Itanagar stated this while adding that additional forces have also been sent to Khonsa and adjoining areas to nab the culprits behind the killing.

"The government has also rushed the DIG (Eastern range), IGP (Law and Order) and the SPs of both Tirap and Changlang districts to the place of occurrence to coordinate the operation," he said.

Police said that Aboh, his minor son and others were travelling in a convoy of four vehicles from Dibrugarh in Assam to Khonsa when the armed militants stopped the convoy at 12 Mile area, located 20 km from Khonsa and fired upon them.

While 11 persons were killed, two security personnel received serious bullet injuries and a woman escaped unhurt, police said.

Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu expressed extreme anguish and shock over the ghastly incident and assured that befitting action would be initiated against the perpetrators.

The Governor of Arunachal Pradesh Brig B.D. Mishra (Retd.) has also expressed his deep grief and condolences on the assassination of Aboh and 10 others and said that the state government is resolved to deal firmly with the situation and the perpetrators of the crime will, sooner than later, have to suffer the consequences of their actions.

The others who were killed in the incident included Wangngoi Hakhun, Jalin Hakhun, Ganwang Hakhun, Matlam Aboh, Pangro, two PSOs of Aboh including Ponhang Agi and B. Siksa, the police said adding that two other victims are yet to be identified.

Police said two other PSOs travelling with Aboh including Wangsan Hakhun and Wangdan Hakhun received bullet injuries while one woman and another PSO escaped unhurt.


Arunachal MLA, Son Among 11 Killed In Terrorist Ambush


Among those killed were Aboh's son and security personnel. Aboh had contested the recently held assembly polls in the state

GUWAHATI: NEW DELHI: Sitting MLA and NPP assembly poll candidate Tirong Aboh and 10 others were shot dead in Tirap district of Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday.

A home ministry official said terrorists from the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) are suspected to behind the attack, adding that the place where Aboh was killed is under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Among those killed were Aboh's son and security personnel. Aboh had contested the recently held assembly polls in the state.

A senior police official, who did not want to be named, told ET, “The MLA was on his way to his constituency from Assam when terrorists open fired at his vehicle near Bogapani village in the district around 11.30 am. We suspect the hand of NSCN-IM behind the incident.” Both factions of the NSCN-IM and Khaplang are active in Arunachal Pradesh. However NSCN-IM is observing a ceasefire and holding peace parleys with the central government. Last month, a breakaway faction of Khaplang, NSCN/KKhango also signed a ceasefire agreement for one year.

In an official communique, the state government said, “As per police report, 11 persons including the sitting MLA Khonsa West Tirong Aboh were ambushed and killed at 12th mile, 20 km in between Khonsa and Deomali road, by armed terrorists .”

Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Pema Khandu expressed shock over the incident. He said befitting action would be initiated against those responsible.

The army has already launched its operations while additional forces from Changlang have been rushed to Khonsa.

Union minister of state for home affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is Lok Sabha MP from Arunachal, tweeted, “I'm shocked and saddened by the brutal attack and tragic killing of MLA Shri Tirong Aboh of Arunachal Pradesh, his family including 11 people. Strongest possible action will be taken against those responsible for such dastardly attack.”

Arunachal Pradesh home minister Kumar Waii, who ahead of the assembly polls had joined NPP, said, “I condemn this incident. This kind of incident has never taken place before.”


Act East: Indian And Myanmar Naval Ships Meet For Maritime Interoperability

UMS King TabinShweHtee and UMS Inlay would undertake a coordinated patrol with Indian Naval Ship INS Saryu from May 20-28

The CORPAT initiative started in 2013 and has helped in enhancing the mutual understanding between the two countries and has also helped in improving professional interaction between the two navies for maritime interoperability.

Issues related to terrorism, illegal-fishing, drug-trafficking, human-trafficking, poaching and other illegal activities inimical to the interest of both nations, naval ships from India and Myanmar have reached Port Blair.

These ships will be participating in the ‘Opening Ceremony’ of the 8th Indo-Myanmar coordinated patrol (IMCOR), at Andaman and Nicobar Command. Myanmar Navy Ship UMS King TabinShweHtee (773) and UMS Inlay (OPV-54) have reached Port Blair and the delegation led by Commodore Htein Win, Commander, Ayeyarwady Naval Command, called on Cmde Ashutosh Ridhorkar, Naval Component Commander on yesterday. Indian Naval Ship INS Saryu is taking part in this patrolling exercise.

The CORPAT initiative started in 2013 and has helped in enhancing the mutual understanding between the two countries and has also helped in improving professional interaction between the two navies for maritime interoperability.

Myanmar ships UMS King TabinShweHtee and UMS Inlay would undertake a coordinated patrol with Indian Naval Ship Saryu from May 20-28 and this effort will be augmented by Maritime Patrol Aircraft from both the navies.

According to the official spokesperson of the Indian Navy Capt DK Sharma, “Naval ships from both sides would patrol along the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between the two countries covering a distance of approximately 725 Kms over a period of four days.”

They will also undertake joint manoeuvres and drills during the sea phase of the coordinated patrol (CORPAT) prior ‘Closing Ceremony’ of the CORPAT onboard Myanmar Naval Ship.

Last year, Indian Naval ships had visited Yangon for the 7th Indian Navy-Myanmar for the Coordinated Patrol, keeping in line with the bilateral mechanisms in place and as part of India’s `Neighbourhood First Policy’ too. With the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) between India and Myanmar close to Andaman and Nicobar Islands, such activities are undertaken to maintain maritime security within maritime boundaries between the two countries.


Challenges For The New Government: Emerging Threats And Modernisation, Say Experts


Also, National security architecture- CDS as given in the 2014 manifesto; strengthen peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. Concerted effort is required for Make in India to make an impact in the defence sector, large value weapon systems will have to be inducted through import route in foreseeable future

From an effective Pakistan policy to keep terrorism below sub-critical levels, five years committed “Roll on defence budget”, Kashmir strategy, modernisation of the armed forces are some of the critical issues that will need to be addressed on an urgent basis by the new government.

Experts sharing their views with the Financial Express Online to deal with new challenges in the neighbourhood as well geo-politically, there should be a full-time defence minister as that will further streamline decision making which will be related to critical procurement of state-of-the-art equipment as well as emerging security challenges armed forces face.

According to Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia (Retd), former DGMO and Colonel of the Parachute Regiment, the priority agenda for new government in the security domain includes a cogent and mid to long term Kashmir strategy to include the `4Es’: Education, employment generation, economic development and empathy for the people.” Also, National security architecture- CDS as given in the 2014 manifesto; strengthen peace and tranquillity along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China.

Modernisation of The Armed Forces A Continuous Process Needs Impetus

Bhatia suggests inclusive defence reforms to revamp structures and organisations like Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), Directorate General Quality Assurance (DGQA) and others with the aim of achieving self-reliance in defence manufacturing and cut down imports.

Says Air Marshal Nirdosh Tyagi (Retd), former Deputy Chief of Air Staff, “Issues including the defence budget, indigenisation, modernisation and procurement for the armed forces need to be addressed on urgent basis. The defence budget will need to have a re-look as the interim budget reduced defence budget in real terms. New govt will need time to get going. This means half year lost for modernisation. Modernisation budget should be enhanced adequately so that new schemes can be contracted after meeting committed liabilities.”

Make in India: Due to the changing security situations in the region, modernisation and indigenisation are critical for the armed forces who despite the fast-tracking of certain systems continue to wait for the state-of-the-art weapons system.

While concerted effort is required for Make in India to make an impact in the defence sector, large value weapon systems will have to be inducted through import route in foreseeable future.

“Capability to produce defence equipment in India is an important strategic requirement. It results in cost savings, employment generation and reduces the possibility of sanctions or denial by the supplier nations,” points out Tyagi.

However, according to him, the budget is not the appropriate tool to encourage this. Services require suitable equipment to be ready to meet any operational contingency. Fulfilment of such requirements cannot be deferred to accommodate equipment which is still in the design and development stage with an uncertain outcome.

There have been many success stories in the recent past, mainly due to the effort of DRDO. The Aakash surface to air missile has been inducted in large numbers by the Air Force and the Army. An ecosystem has been created wherein many MSMEs participate actively.

The Indo-Russia joint venture of BrahMos missile system has been indigenised much beyond the level of 50%. Astra Beyond-Visual-Range air to air missile is another success story. A large number of ground-based radars have been designed and manufactured in India. AEW&C, Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ Advanced Light Helicopter `Dhruv’ and Light Combat Helicopter deserve mention here` and in the Indian Navy, most of the ships are manufactured in India.

Still, a large number of systems on the ships are imported. Same is the case with LCA, ALH and LCH. “India has a long way to go in self reliance because we do not manufacture wide range components and devices for electronic systems,” he points out.

According to Tyagi, “Materials are another weak area. The design capability for aviation systems is also not very strong. Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has not been able to design and produce Intermediate Jet Trainer despite making claims to this effect over 10 years back. They are also struggling with Basic Trainer aircraft.”

The public sector has failed to progress beyond licensed production. Private sector participation needs to be encouraged much more than what has been done so far.

He adds, “Most pressing issue for the IAF is dwindling fighter strength. Tender for 114 fighters must be released on priority. The government must encourage private sector participation by finalizing Strategic Partners for various sectors.

ISRO Successfully Launches RISAT-2B Spy Satellite Into A Precise Orbit


PSLV-C46 launched RISAT-2B, a Radar imaging earth observation military satellite into a precise orbit. The launch vehicle soared into the sky at 0530 hrs IST from the First Launch Pad (FLP) of Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SDSC) SHAR, Sriharikota.

In a textbook launch RISAT-2B satellite was placed into an orbit of 555 km at an inclination of 37 degree. RISAT-2B that would enhance the country's surveillance capabilities among others.

PSLV-C46 is the 14th flight of PSLV in 'Core-Alone' configuration (without the use of solid strap-on motors) and the 48th mission overall of the PSLV,. This was the 72nd launch vehicle mission from SDSC SHAR, Sriharikota and the 36th launch from the First Launch pad. With this mission PSLV has achieved the milestone of launching 50 tons of payload into space.

ISRO Chairman K Sivan had earlier described the mission as a "very, very important" one for the country.

"This is a very, very important mission for India. It is an excellent satellite with hi-fi earth observation (capabilities)," he said in a television broadcast from the space port.

The RISAT-2B is equipped with synthetic aperture radar that can take pictures of the earth during day and night, and also under cloudy conditions. With a mission life of five years, the satellite would also be used for military surveillance, ISRO sources said.

The RISAT-2 has been actively used by India to monitor activities in camps across the border in Pakistan to thwart infiltration bids by terrorists.

As done in PSLV-C45 launch, ISRO has also made provision for public to view the launch from recently opened Viewer’s gallery at Satish Dhawan Space Centre SHAR, Sriharikota.

Our Bureau

Anil Ambani To Withdraw Defamation Suits Against Congress, Herald


The defamation suits were filed against the National Herald's editor Zafar Agha, and Vishwadeepak, the author of a news article published by it

AHMEDABAD: Anil Ambani's Reliance Group has decided to withdraw the Rs 5,000-crore civil defamation suits filed in an Ahmedabad court against Congress leaders and National Herald newspaper over their statements and an article on the controversial Rafale fighter jet deal.

The suits were being heard in the court of city civil and sessions judge P J Tamakuwala.

"We have intimated the defendants that we are going to withdraw the suits against them," the complainant's lawyer, Rasesh Parikh, told PTI on Tuesday.

P S Champaneri, the lawyer representing the National Herald and some other defendants, said he was told by the Reliance Group's counsel that he received instructions from his client to withdraw the defamation suits against them.

The formal process to withdraw the suits will be taken up in the court when it resumes after the summer vacation, Champaneri said.

Reliance Defence, Reliance Infrastructure and Reliance Aerostructure-- part of the Anil Ambani-owned Reliance Group-- had earlier filed civil defamation suits against Congress leaders including Sunil Jakhar, Randeep Singh Surjewala, Oommen Chandy, Ashok Chavan, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Sanjay Nirupam and Shaktisinh Gohil, and some journalists and news organisations like the National Herald.

The defamation suits were also filed against the National Herald's editor Zafar Agha, and Vishwadeepak, the author of a news article published by it.

Before going for summer vacation, the court was hearing applications moved by the defendants questioning the territorial jurisdiction of the court in Ahmadabad to hear such suits.

The complainants said the defendants made libellous and derogatory statements against the Reliance Group and its chairman Anil Ambani pertaining to the Rafale fighter jet deal and his firms.

They asked the defendants to "cease and desist" from levelling allegations against the company in connection with the Rafale deal.

The defamation suit filed against the National Herald pertained to an article published by it, titled 'Anil Ambani floated Reliance Defence 10 days before Modi announced Rafale deal'

The article "misleads the general public to believe that undue business favours are being extended to them by the government of the day," the petition said.

It conveys a "negative image" and "adversely affects the public perception" of Reliance Group and its chairman Ambani, it said.

It has caused "considerable damage" to the reputation and goodwill of plaintiff firms, it said, seeking damages of Rs 5,000 crore.


Can Indian Armed Forces Finally Learn to Stay United?


by Kuldip Singh

On May 14, the Government announced the raising of the Armed Forces Special Operations Division (AFSOD) with Major General AK Dhingra as its first head. The AFSOD, with elements drawn from the Indian Army's Parachute Regiments (Special Forces), Indian Navy’s Marine Commandos (MARCOS), and the Garud Commandos of the Indian Air Force, will function under the HQ of the tri-services Integrated Defence Staff. Starting with 3000 soldiers, the AFSOD will reportedly have its own dedicated helicopters, transport planes and specialised weaponry besides surveillance equipment.

To be based at Agra (where the Parachute Brigade is located), the AFSOD is one of the three new strategic-level raising that were approved by the Defence Ministry in Sept 2018, and by the Government in December 2018. This was in consonance with the recommendations of the 2012 Naresh Chandra Task Force. The other two organisations are the Defence Cyber Agency (DCA), being set up at Delhi under Rear Admiral Mohit Gupta, and the Defence Space Agency (DSA), being raised at Bangalore with Air Marshal SP Dharkar as its chief. Together, all three agencies represent India’s resolve to address the evolved, new age threats.

Shape of Future Wars & the Importance of AFSOD

Ever since the 2006 Lebanon War (Israel-Hezbollah), military strategists have argued that the days of the ponderous, World War-II type of set-piece battles are over, and that in contemporary security scenarios, there would be inter-related battle spaces that would range from direct, faced-paced inter-state war, to unconventional, indirect wars utilising non-state actors of various types and proxies.

Thus, in future, our greatest challenge will perhaps not come from a State that selects one approach, but from a State(s) or groups that select from the whole menu of tactics, forces (conventional and/or irregular) and technologies to confront our strategic interests. Future scenarios, hence, will more likely present unique combinational or hybrid threats.

This type of hybrid warfare therefore requires full-spectrum forces, which includes conventional, as well as those capable of quick interventions using similar irregular or disruptive operations to thwart adaptive enemies.

And herein lies the importance of Special Operations Forces (SOF). Built around highly competent, multi-skill small-teams, SOF require team leaders with cerebral capacity, decision-making skills and tactical cunning to respond to the unknown, along with equipment sets to react or adapt faster than tomorrow’s adversaries. SOF can also preempt a potential crisis through timely intervention.

And to realise this construct requires structures, transformation processes and shaping that go beyond mere regrouping of various SOF into one large mass.

Problems With The Current Formation

Deliberations on the AFSOD (and the DCA and DSA) had commenced in 2010. These had envisioned the AFSOD being a large, well-equipped, strategic level formation headed by a Lt General. The heavily politicized “surgical strikes” (which in reality were the standard cross-LoC raid packaged with a fancy name), gave its raising an impetus. Reports suggested that the present NSA wanted a special group comprising the best from the three branches of the armed forces. This was meant to be at par with the US Navy's Naval Special Warfare Development Group (DEVGRU / SEAL Team 6 that had killed Osama bin Laden at Attobabad, Pakistan; May 2011).

It is evident that the AFSOD falls short of the original vision.

Conflict With The Indian Army’s Doctrine

The AFSOD is proposed to be the first choice of the Government for major counter-terrorism operations both within and outside the country. This mandate conflicts with the Indian Army’s Land Warfare Doctrine (of Nov 27, 2018), which identifies that “Future conflicts will be characterised by operating in a zone of ambiguity …. Wars will be Hybrid in nature, a blend of conventional and unconventional”.

The document adds that “Special Forces shall be equipped, structured and trained to ensure their application in multiple employment opportunities for exponential gains, to achieve our military objectives .... employment strategies must form a vital component of our overall deterrence capability, both in unconventional/ conventional domains”.

It also states that “India’s role as a regional security provider mandates a force projection capability to further our national security objectives. A Rapid Reaction Force comprising Integrated Battle Groups with strategic lift and amphibious capability will be an imperative for force projection operations.”

In other words, the Government desires to utilise the AFSOD for major counter-terrorism (CT) missions internally and for “surgical strikes” externally - whereas the Indian Army wants to assign the SOF missions at the strategic, theatre and operational level during war, which include ‘Intelligence, Surveillance & Reconnaissance’ (ISR) tasks, as well as deep operations to preempt, delay, disrupt and destroy high value targets in support of military operations.

This raises a question: will the AFSOD end up taking the best SOF personnel from each service and be used as just another CT force? If so, how will the Army, Navy and the Air Force fill their operational voids?

Or, will the AFSOD be dual-tasked? If yes, then its training, grouping and equipping merits refining beyond CT.

Unresolved Issues of Mandate And Hierarchy

In the US, all types of covert activities by the CIA and the US military are governed by two laws, namely ‘Title 50’ and ‘Title 10’, respectively. The CIA is the only US government agency which is legally allowed to carry out covert actions, unless the US President authorizes another agency (e.g. the US military) by issuing a ‘finding’. The US military’s statutory authority, broad missions and functions are codified in Title 10 of the United States Code.

Since there are international and political considerations and repercussions of using the SOF for covert action in foreign countries, US laws mandate that unless otherwise directed by the President/Secretary of Defence, a SOF activity/mission [“shall”] be only conducted within the jurisdiction of the GCC.

Since we are trying to emulate the US system, we need to understand our specific circumstances. In India, conducting “surgical strikes” across the LoC (an undefined boundary) is one thing; performing them across an international border (IB) is quite another - as legally, a target country can construe an overt, declared military strike across an IB, or the capture of an adversary’s military personnel on a covert mission inside its sovereign territory as a declaration of war - and escalate.

Besides, for cross-border operations, there are requirements of political management of the international community, information operations, real-time intelligence and imagery, media management, etc.

So: is the AFSOD only LoC (and ‘friendly’ countries) specific? Or, will it be available for “surgical strikes” across the IBs too? If it’s the former, it would be under-utilisation of a fine force.

If no, then it requires closer integration with the Ministry of External Affairs, Defence Intelligence Agency, Research & Analysis Wing (RAW), Intelligence Bureau, National Technical Research Organisation, etc. For that to happen, it should be reporting to the highest commander, e.g. a Chief of Defence Staff (yet to be appointed), as opposed to the chief of HQ IDS (CISC).

Can Indian Forces Finally Learn Jointness And Synergy?

While there has been a tremendous improvement in the tri-service Andaman & Nicobar Command since its raising, it is emblematic of the India’s Armed Forces’ apathetic attitude towards jointness. The US’ joint Combatant Commands, on the other hand, are the outcome of the Goldwater–Nichols Department of Defence Reorganisation Act of 1986. Under this,

(i) respective service chiefs are only responsible for “organising, training and equipping” personnel and do not have any operational control over their forces;

(ii) the troops of each service are deployed in, and support the commander responsible for a specific function (Special Operations, Strategic, and Transportation) or a GCC; and

(iii) the military chain of command runs from the US President through the Secretary of Defence directly to Combatant Commanders, bypassing the Service chiefs, although they have an advisory role to the President and the Secretary of Defence.

In India however, the Service Chiefs have an operational role and full control over their forces – along with a reluctance to let go of their forces or support non-integral forces. This once again highlights the need for a CDS for joint organisations to flourish.

That said, it needs to be noted that, overall, the raising of the AFSOD under a capable commander is a very positive step. It needs to be nurtured by all elements of national power so that, with time, it matures and evolves into a larger, strategic force along the lines of, and with capabilities akin to, the U.S. Special Operations Command.

Kuldip Singh is a retired Brigadier from the Indian Army