Friday, September 21, 2018

Read Full Letter of Pak PM Imran Khan To PM Modi

Pakistan PM Imran Khan wrote a letter to PM Modi to start "comprehensive dialogue", asserting both countries owe it to future generations to resolve all "outstanding issues, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute".

Full letter of PM Imran Khan:

Dear Modi Sahab, 

I wish to thank you for your warm greetings and best wishes on my assumption of charge as the Prime Minister of Pakistan. 

I endorse your sentiment that the only way forward for our two countries lies in “constructive engagement”. It was in this spirit that Pakistan's Minister of Law and Information attended the funeral of Mr. Atal Bihari Vajpayee in New Delhi. Mr. Vajpayee contributed in trying to bring a positive change in our bilateral relations and was also a major proponent of a strong SAARC for building bridges and developing ties. 

Pakistan and India have an undeniably challenging relationship. We, however, owe it to our people, especially the future generations to peacefully resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu & Kashmir dispute, to bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome. Siachin and Sir Creek need close attention to move towards resolution. 

Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism. 

Discussion on trade, people to people contacts, religious tourism, humanitarian issues are also important. 

Building on mutual desire for peace between our two countries. I wish to propose a meeting between foreign minister, Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and the External Affairs minister Ms. Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York. The can explore the way forward, especially the holding of the SAARC Council of Ministers followed by the SAARC Summit in Islamabad. The summit will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process. 

I look forward to working with you for the benefit of the people of both our countries. 

Please accept, Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.

I endorse your sentiment that the only way forward for our two countries lies in “constructive engagement”, Imran said.

'Meeting, Not a Dialogue': India Announces Meeting Between Swaraj And Pakistan’s Qureshi

India announces meeting between Sushma Swaraj and Pakistan’s Qureshi. This will be first time that a “meeting” will be held between the foreign ministers of the two countries since Sushma Swaraj travelled to Pakistan for the ‘Heart of Asia’ meeting in 2015

New Delhi: India announced on Thursday that it has accepted Pakistan’s proposal for a meeting between the Indian and Pakistani foreign ministers, even as New Delhi insisted that that the encounter should not interpreted as the start of a dialogue process.

India’s acceptance was based on a request made in a letter dated September 14 from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan to his Indian counterpart to reply to the latter’s congratulatory missive.

“I can confirm that on the request of the Pakistani side a meeting between external affairs minister and Pakistan foreign minister will take place on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly at a mutually convenient date and time,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

This will be first time that a “meeting” will be held between the foreign ministers of the two countries since Sushma Swaraj travelled to Pakistan for the ‘Heart of Asia’ meeting in 2015.

However, the “comprehensive bilateral dialogue” launched in December 2015 was a stillbirth. The terror attack in Pathankot, which lasted for nearly four days, derailed the start of the talks.

Since then, India had stated that “terror and talks cannot go together”. However, with the two national security advisors keeping in touch, New Delhi had argued that “talks on terror” were acceptable.

In his letter, Khan said that it was important to “peacefully resolve all outstanding issues, including the Jammu and Kashmir dispute, to bridge differences and achieve a mutually beneficial outcome”. “Pakistan remains ready to discuss terrorism,” he added.

Modi had earlier written to Khan of his commitment to “pursue meaningful and constructive engagement for the benefit of the people of the region”.

Khan replied that he wished to “propose a meeting between foreign minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi and external affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj, before the informal meeting of the SAARC foreign ministers at the sidelines of the upcoming UN General Assembly in New York”.

The last time India and Pakistan came face-to-face was during the annual meeting of SAARC foreign ministers in New York last year on the side-lines of the UN General Assembly. The Indian foreign ministry confirmed Swaraj’s participation for the 2018 edition of the meeting this year.

To tamp down on any domestic criticism and avoid hype, the Indian side repeatedly claimed that this was only a “meeting”.

“I must distinguish between a meeting and a dialogue… This does not indicate any change any policy as far as our policy on cross border terrorism is concerned,” said Kumar.

When pointed out that decision was announced amidst reports of a BSF soldier’s body being mutilated, Kumar said that India was “ascertaining facts on the matter”.

“I can say this barbaric incident, which not only defies logic, defies civilized behaviour but also violates all international norms,” he stated.

The meeting of the foreign ministers would also be taking place after Indian defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman had stated that Indian army, just like their Pakistani counterparts, was also quietly “cutting off” heads of Pakistani soldiers.

To a question pointing out to the incongruity of holding talks when ministers have made belligerent statements, Kumar said that he could not comment on the remarks made by the defence minister.

To a question on how this decision should be interpreted, MEA spokesperson reiterated, “There is nothing much to read into this meeting at this stage”.

He claimed that “agenda” for the foreign minister’s meeting had still not been finalised, but he added that Swaraj will take up the matter of setting up a Kartarpur Sahib corridor.

The issue has become a political hot potato in Punjab, with Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu having tried to steal the thunder by raising it during his Pakistan visit.

When Sidhu met with Swaraj, he was allegedly reprimanded for “messing up” the matter, as per sources closed to the minister.

The Akalis have been also trying to take up flag on opening up a new pilgrimage to Kartarpur Sahih, which had been raised by Ata Bihari Vajpayee in 1999 and Manmohan Singh in 2004.

Kumar confirmed that Akali leader and minister for food processing Harsimrat Kaur Badal wrote to Swaraj on this issue.

“Even now, we have not received any official communication that the Pakistani government is willing to consider this matter. EAM will, therefore, raise this issue in her meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Minister on the side-lines of UNGA,” said MEA spokesperson.

While the Indians stated that the agenda had not been agreed, the Pakistani prime minister had proposed that the two foreign ministers should “explore the way forward, especially the holding of the SAARC Council of Ministers followed by the SAARC summit in Islamabad”.

Khan also suggest that the holding of the SAARC summit in Islamabad “will offer an opportunity for you to visit Pakistan and for us to re-start the stalled dialogue process”.

India, along with Bhutan, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, had refused to attend the scheduled SAARC summit in November 2016 over continued activities of terror groups in Pakistan.

The Indian spokesperson did not state directly if India will again decline to attend SAARC summit in Pakistan. “Our existing policy on the resumption of SAARC process is very consistent. We have not changed in the last few years…,” he added.

News Agencies

Terrorists Abduct, Kill Three Policemen In Kashmir's Shopian

Three policemen who were abducted early Friday from Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists have been killed. The reports about the incident comes nearly three weeks after terrorists had abducted and released relatives of policemen from various places in south Kashmir

SRINAGAR: Terrorists shot dead three policemen after abducting them from Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir early Friday, police said.

The bodies were recovered from an orchard in Wangam area, more than a kilometre from the village the policemen were abducted from.

Police identified the dead as constable Nissar Ahmed and two special police officers - Firdous Ahmed and Kulwant Singh - from Kapren and Heepora areas of Shopian district.

Police said the residents of Batagund village had chased the terrorists and urged them not to abduct the policemen, but the terrorists fired a few shots in the air and and threatened the villagers.

They said the terrorists crossed a river in the area and shot dead the policemen.

Nissar Ahmed was working with the armed police, Firdous Ahmed, who was under process of being converted to constable, served in the Railways. Kulwant Singh was posted with Kulgam police.

The terrorists had also kidnapped the brother of a police constable but he was released later.

A Twitter handle purportedly belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen group has claimed responsibility for the abduction and killing.

The policemen were abducted nearly three weeks after terrorists had abducted relatives of policemen from various places in south Kashmir on August 30. The relatives were later released. 

At least eight people whose relatives worked in Jammu and Kashmir Police were abducted.

Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo had purportedly claimed responsibility for the abductions in a 12-minute video, issuing a three-day deadline for the release of all relatives of terrorists who were in police custody.

The August 30 abductions happened after the NIA arrested the second son of globally-wanted terrorist Syed Salahuddin, leader of the Hizbul Mujahideen group.

Salahuddin's son was arrested on charges of receiving secret funds.

GRSE Gears Up For Bagging Export Orders

State-run ship maker Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) is gearing up to bag export orders through both competitive bidding process as well as on a nomination basis, an official said on Wednesday.

"We are having dialogue at B2B (Business To Business) and G2G (Government To Government) level. We are actively looking at exports and our focus would be on warship construction," its Chairman and Managing Director Rear Admiral (Retd.) V.K. Saxena said.

According to him, the shipbuilder is looking to tap South East and West Asian and Latin American markets to bag overseas orders.

Incidentally, the company had exported one marine warship to Mauritius in 2014 and recently, emerged as a successful bidder in the competitive bidding process for two major projects -- four large survey vessels and anti-submarine warfare (ASW) shallow water corvettes for the Indian Navy.

It also emerged as the lower bidder (L1) for building an ocean-going passenger ferry for Guyana in South America and it was hopeful of bagging the order soon, he said.

The company is "well placed" to get into any kind of competitive bidding process, both in India and overseas, Saxena said at the announcement of Initial Public Offer.

The central government is divesting around 25 per cent stake in the defence PSU through an initial public offer of shares and around Rs 335-345 crore at a price band of Rs 115-118 per equity share is expected to be raised.

The company proposed to open the offer on September 24 and it is to be closed on September 26.

The Mini Ratna company's order book, presently, stands at Rs 20,300 crore, comprising of four projects, three for the navy and one for the Coast Guard, totalling 13 ships.

Its shipbuilding division contributes about 90 per cent of the company's revenue though the engineering major manufactures deck machinery items, pre-fabricated portable steel bridges and marine pumps.

The company is also exploring the possibility of a brownfield expansion at the Rajabagan Dockyard in the city, which currently builds small and medium vessels.

The expansion project, which might commence by the middle of 2019, would likely to entail an investment of around Rs 175-200 crore as per initial estimates, Saxena added.

News Agencies

HAL Staff Is Angry With Own Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman

New Delhi: Engineers and other staff of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited are upset over Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman rubbishing the capability of her own ministry’s public sector undertaking in trying to justify the Modi government in the Rafale aircraft deal.

They felt insulted by the minister’s remarks justifying the awarding of Rafale’s Rs 37,000-crore offset contract going to Reliance instead of HAL, and pointed out that it is the country’s only defence aerospace company established seven decades ago which has been the backbone of the Indian Air Force. Also, it has the capability to produce any fighter with technology transfer.

A retired HAL executive pointed out that the order book position of HAL has come down drastically just because the government wants to promote the private sector. He wondered why the public sector company is being made a pawn in the political slug-fest. He alleged that the government wants to kill HAL systematically by pulling out Rs 5,000-6,000 crore of shares as a buyback policy for the last three years.

Further, it is pointed out that HAL has been maintaining Mirage-2000 aircraft, manufactured by Rafale maker Dassault Aviation, for the last 20 years and as such there is no reason why Dassault should object to HAL’s capability as claimed by Sitharaman. Another top engineer in HAL said design and development of new aircraft or aircraft engines has been perfected by the public sector company while no Indian private sector company has the expertise, patience and perseverance to pursue a design that may take anywhere between six to 20 years manufacture.

Even the IAF is worried that it requires new aircraft as fast as possible to replace the ageing fleet while it may take 20 to 25 years for the private sector to reach maturity in an otherwise risky industry. These insiders said the private sector should better start by becoming tier-1, tier-2 and tier-3 suppliers of big players like Airbus and Boeing. They should first establish skills, processes, quality, human resource and management capabilities. The HAL executives said only they have the unique experience in terms of prototype flight testing. The PSU has also produced Sukhoi Su-30MKI, AJT Hawk, Tejas and many helicopters to defend the borders.

Will Take Up With Pak Killing of BSF Jawan In 'Appropriate Manner': India

India on Thursday termed as "barbaric" the killing of a BSF Jawan by Pakistani troops along the International Border and said it will take up the issue with Pakistan in an "appropriate" manner

The BSF Jawan's throat was slit and his body bore multiple bullet injuries after the missing trooper was found killed by Pakistani troops in the Jammu region, in a first-of-its-kind barbaric act against Indian forces along the International Border.

"We are ascertaining the facts on this matter...I can say (it is) a barbaric incident which not only defies logic, not only defies civilised behaviour, but also is against all international norms," Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.

He said the BSF had strongly taken up the matter with their counterpart on the Pakistani side.

"It is a very serious issue and definitely we will take it up with the Pakistani side in an appropriate manner," he said.

Turkish T-129 Attack Helicopter Gunships Deal With Pakistan In Jeopardy

Turkish Aerospace Industries is currently producing 30 T-129 ATAK twin-engine attack helicopter gunships for Pakistan but have hit a snag in the process. In order to go further with the contract, The T-129 attack helicopter has US components made by Honeywell and so, Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) would need export licenses from the US reports Defence News.

The T-129, based on the British-Italian Leonardo-Finmeccanica (formerly AugustaWestland) A-129 Mangusta. The T-129 is powered by two LHTEC T800-4A turbo-shaft engines. Each engine can produce 1,014 kilowatts of output power. LHTEC is a joint venture between the American firm Honeywell and the British company Rolls-Royce.

America and Turkey have been at odds over U.S. support for Kurdish militants fighting the Islamic State group in northern Syria, as well as Turkey’s refusal to follow U.S. sanctions on Iran, and Ankara’s decision to deploy the Russian-made S-400 air and anti-missile defence systems on Turkish soil. Most recently, Congress took another step toward banning the delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter jet to Turkey.

Turkey and Pakistan signed a deal on July 13 for 30 T-129 ATAK helicopter gunships. Pakistani officials say their own AH-1F Cobra gunships lack the capability to perform adequately over the higher altitudes of the Hindu Kush mountain range separating Afghanistan and Pakistan.

In 2016, Pakistani officials thoroughly tested the T-129 and endorsed the deal.

This is good news for India as the attack helicopter gunships could be used against Indian armed forces in the event of war between the two bitter arch enemies.

Our Bureau

S-400 Deal, A Significant Transaction With Potential CAATSA Implications: U.S.

WASHINGTON: Purchase of major military equipment like multi-billion S-400 missile defence system would be considered as a "significant transaction" and thus has a potential Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) implication, the Trump administration said Friday.

And as such, soon after President Donald Trump signed an executive order in this regard, the United States imposed sanctions on a Chinese entity, the Equipment Development Department, or EDD, and also upon its director, Li Shangfu, for its recent purchase of Russian Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jets and S-400 surface-to-air missile, a senior administration official told reporters during a conference call.

As a result, all property and interests in property within the US jurisdiction of the EDD and Shangfu have been blocked and the US citizens barred from transacting with them, he said.

"We want to stress that the legislative standard here is a significant transaction with an entity that appears on the List of Specified Persons. We took these actions because China took delivery of 10 Sukhoi fighter aircraft, specifically Su-25s, in December of 2017, after the CAATSA statute came into force. It also took delivery of a batch of S-400 - sometimes known as SA-21 - surface-to-air missile systems or related equipment in January of this year," the official said.

Both these Chinese transactions from Russia, he said, occurred after the CAATSA sanctions statute came into force. The deal was negotiated between the Equipment Development Department and Rosoboronexport, which is Russia's main arms export entity, he added.

The official emphasised that the ultimate target of these sanctions was Russia.

"CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country. They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities," he said.

"Those malign activities are undertaken to compete with the US and its allies and partners. This is for the first time that the US has sanctioned anyone under Section 231 of CAATSA, which focuses upon, those who engage in significant transactions with entities that appear on the LSP," the official said.

He declined to answer a question whether the US would be taking similar action against countries, like Turkey, that buy S-400 missile defence system.

"As to other potential recipients of the S-400, we haven't made any determinations yet with respect to what to do about those, but you can be confident that we have spent an enormous amount of time talking about prospective purchases of things such as S-400s and Sukhois with people all around the world who may have been interested in such things and some who may still be," the official said.

He said the Trump administration has made it "very clear" to these countries that these systems like the S-400 are a system of key concern with potential CAATSA implications.

"So while decisions on other cases have yet to be made, and indeed other transactions have yet to occur, we hope that at least this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors, which would of course be precisely what we hope Congress intended, and what we are required to do pursuant to the fact," the official said.

Ahead of Putin Visit, Final Work On To Seal Air Defence Shield Deal

In this file picture, Russian servicemen drive S-400 missile air defence systems near Yeisk test site

The Russian side believes that for the systems to be delivered by 2020, as the Indian side desires, the mega deal has to be inked before the end of this year

by Manu Pubby

New Delhi: Work is on to seal a symbolic deal for air defence systems with Russia ahead of President Vladimir Putin’s visit, which had become a prestige point with the US. However, there are no assurances yet that the contract would be signed at the bilateral summit early next month.

The Rs 39,500-crore deal to procure the S-400 system that Indian Air Force believes has the potential to virtually ground its adversaries in Pakistan, is in the final stage with an approval note ready for a decision by the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

Sources say there is no question of backing away from the deal and assurances have been given at the top level that India will not fall under US pressure of sanctions. However, there is still no clarity on when the final deal will be signed Defence ministry officials say things are in the final stage and that there are no points of contention but refrain from commenting on it being taken up at the summit. Meanwhile, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said that “we'll have to see it if it's signed before the Russian President's visit”.

The Russian side believes that for the systems to be delivered by 2020, as the Indian side desires, the mega deal has to be inked before the end of this year. “It would be feasible if the respective contract is signed by the end of this year. Being the best in the world and so far unrivalled anti-missile defence system S-400 is, naturally, in high demand…no production can start before the contract is signed,” an official of Russia’s Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) told ET.

The air defence system that is designed to take down aerial targets from a distance of over 400 km has been ordered by China as well as Turkey, with negotiations on with other nations, including Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Deliveries for China are almost complete and the system is expected to be fully operational by next year.

India has been negotiating the S-400 deal since 2015 and it would be the most expensive missile shield ever bought. In 2016, then defence minister Manohar Parrikar led a major overhaul of India’s air defence plans that showed that the S-400 would save the taxpayer Rs 49,300 crore in acquisitions over the next decade by cutting down the requirement of other short and medium range anti-air missiles.

While a final call will be taken at the top level by India ahead of the visit, the Russian side says that all technical and commercial issues have been negotiated. “Given the importance of the contract to bilateral defense ties, it seems logical and symbolic to sign it at the upcoming summit. But it is up to our partners to decide,” the FSMTC official said.

As reported by ET, Reliance Defence had announced a plan to partner with S-400’s manufacturer Almaz Antey but this fell through after India decided to waive off the offsets clause for the contract. This was done in 2017 to shorten the delivery period of the system and after taking into consideration that the S-400 is a cutting edge system that would give India a unique new defensive capability.

U.S. Sanctions China For Buying Russian Fighter Jets, Missiles

The sanctions are related to China's purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration imposed sanctions on the Chinese military on Thursday for buying fighter jets and missile systems from Russia, in breach of a sweeping U.S. sanctions law punishing Moscow for meddling in the 2016 U.S. election.

The U.S. State Department said it would immediately impose sanctions on China's Equipment Development Department (EDD), the branch of the Chinese military responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in "significant transactions" with Rosoboronexport, Russia's main arms exporter.

The sanctions are related to China's purchase of 10 SU-35 combat aircraft in 2017 and S-400 surface-to-air missile system-related equipment in 2018, the State Department said.

They block the Chinese agency, and Li, from applying for export licenses and participating in the U.S. financial system.

It also adds them to the Treasury Department's list of specially designated individuals with whom Americans are barred from doing business.

The administration also blacklisted an additional 33 people and entities associated with the Russian military and intelligence, adding them to a list under the 2017 law, known as the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, or CAATSA.

CAATSA also seeks to punish Russia for its aggression in Ukraine and involvement in Syria's civil war.

Doing significant business with anyone on that list can trigger sanctions like those imposed on China.

Some of those added to the list, which now contains 72 names, were indicted in connection with Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, the official said.

Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order intended to facilitate implementation of the sanctions.

A federal special counsel is leading a criminal investigation of Russian interference in the U.S. election, and any possible cooperation with Trump's presidential campaign.

Trump has insisted there was no collusion with Russia. Moscow denies any effort to meddle in U.S. politics.


One U.S. administration official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said the sanctions imposed on the Chinese agency were aimed at Moscow, not Beijing or its military, despite an escalating trade war between the United States and China.

"The ultimate target of these sanctions is Russia. CAATSA sanctions in this context are not intended to undermine the defence capabilities of any particular country," the official told reporters on a conference call.

"They are instead aimed at imposing costs upon Russia in response to its malign activities," the official said.

In Moscow, Russian member of parliament Franz Klintsevich said the sanctions would not affect the S-400 and SU-35 contracts.

"I am sure that these contracts will be executed in line with the schedule," Klintsevich was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency. "The possession of this military equipment is very important for China."

Security analysts in Asia said the move appeared to be largely symbolic and would serve only to push Moscow and Beijing closer together.

"The imposition of U.S. sanctions will have zero impact on Russian arms sales to China," said Ian Storey, of Singapore's ISEAS Yusof Ishak Institute.

"Both countries are opposed to what they see as U.S. bullying and these kind of actions will just push Beijing and Moscow even closer together," he said, adding that Moscow needed Chinese money and Beijing wanted advanced military technology.

Collin Koh, a security analyst at Singapore's S Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said the sanctions would do little to counter the evolving research and development relationship between China and Russia.

China relied less on large big-ticket purchases from Russia as in previous years, but Chinese defence industries were seeking expertise from Russia and former-Soviet states to plug knowledge gaps, he said.

The measures come as the Trump administration pursues a variety of strategies to clamp down on China and faces growing pressure to respond strongly to U.S. intelligence agency reports that Russia is continuing to meddle in U.S. politics.

Members of Congress, including many of Trump's fellow Republicans, who passed the sanctions bill nearly unanimously, have repeatedly called on the administration to take a harder line against Moscow.

Administration officials said they hoped the action against EDD would send a message to others considering buying the S-400.

U.S. officials have been discussing the issue particularly with NATO ally Turkey, which wants to buy the Russian-made S-400 surface-to-air missile batteries.

Washington has expressed concern that Turkey's planned deployment of the S-400s could pose a risk to the security of some U.S.-made weapons and other technology used by Turkey, including the F-35 fighter jet.

U.S. officials have warned that Turkey's purchase of the system could contravene CAATSA.

"We hope that at least this step will send a signal of our seriousness and perhaps encourage others to think twice about their own engagement with the Russian defence and intelligence sectors," another U.S. official said.

SAAB Expresses Interest In Fighter Jet Deal: Swedish Official

First Among Equals? SAAB Gripen is back in contention for the MMRCA deal

NEW DELHI: Amid the raging controversy over the Defence Ministry's procurement of the Rafale fighter aircraft from French firm Dassault Aviation, a senior Swedish official has said that his country's firm SAAB, in its Gripen aircraft, has the requisite experience to contest for the upcoming Indian deal for manufacturing 110 new fighter jets under the Make in India program.

"I know that SAAB is interested, they want to be a part of this procurement," Teppo Tauriainen, Director General for Trade in the Swedish Foreign Ministry, told IANS in an interview here.

"They think they have something good to offer that will be of interest to India," Tauriainen said.

"They, of course, know what the expectations of the government is in terms of local production and cooperation with a local partner."

India is expected to select by the end of this year one fighter aircraft that will be manufactured by the private sector under the Make in India programme for supply to the Indian Air Force.

The SAAB Gripen will be contesting with the likes of the Russian MiG 35, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A 18 and Lockheed Martin F-16 for the upcoming deal.

While MiG has already said that it will have state-owned Hindustan Aeronautic Limited (HAL) as its local partner, Indian companies like Tata, Reliance Defence, Mahindra and Adani are in the fray for local partners in the project that is expected to be worth over $20 billion (Rs 1.44 lakh crore).

Tauriainen said that for SAAB, contesting for the deal will be nothing new as it has signed a similar deal for Gripen with the Brazilian government with Embraer as its local partner.

"I have myself visited the Brazilian partner, Embraer, and seen there are a lot of spin-offs locally in the Brazilian economy from this fighter jet deal," he said.

"So, I think for SAAB, as a company, it won't be unusual to do it the way the Indian government wants it to happen."

During his visit to Sweden in April this year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said that defence and security have emerged as an important pillar of the India-Sweden bilateral partnership.

"Sweden has been a partner of India in the defence sector for a long time. I am confident new opportunities for cooperation in this sector will arise in the future, especially in defence production," Modi said.

During that visit, an India-Sweden Partnership was also announced with a fund of 50 million Swedish kronor (around $5.6 million) for innovation cooperation in the fields of smart cities and sustainability.

Asked what steps have been taken in this connection, Tauriainen said that the dialogue for these projects has started though none of these projects have started operating.

"But we have come quite far to identify areas where we think there is a potential to do cooperation," he said.

He said that sustainable technology is a broad area and is very much related to how cities are built in terms of transport, energy, waste and waste water.

"There we have some interesting experiences and I hope that is of relevance to India," Tauriainen said.

"Some technologies we have already tested in Sweden. Other technologies will have to be adapted to Indian conditions," he added.

In Sweden, waste is actually used to generate power and only one per cent of the waste goes to the landfill. Asked about the presence of around 180 Swedish companies in India and their role in the Indian economy, Tauriainen said these are doing good business despite "some limitations".

"They wouldn't mind if those limitations are taken away. But they are interested in the Indian market and most of them are interested in expanding," he said.

IDN TAKE: Know About India's Battlefield Strike Weapon 'Prahar'

Image: YouTube        

India Test Fires Tactical Ballistic Missile Akin to American MGM-140

The Prahaar – capable of carrying conventional warheads up to 150 kilometres – is designed with the aim to neutralise threats emanating from Pakistan's NASR procured from China (discontinued Weishi-2), a tactical nuclear missile purportedly capable of destroying Indian Army’s armour units

When India conducted its second test of a Quick Reaction Surface-To-Surface battlefield strike weapon (20-Sep-2018), it laid the foundation for a much needed deterrence system for the Indian Army and Air Force.

Designated Prahar, or Strike, this was the second test of the missile and there would be some more to establish its required parameters before induction with the Indian Army and Air Force units. The missile can be launched from its canisters within two to three minutes without much preparations, and can also be ferried on road and rail mobile launchers.

The missile has been described as a Quick Reaction (QR) system. It is an all weather, all terrain, accurate targeting weapon and can be fired in salvos of six from its launchers covering the entire azimuth plane. According to DRDO, the missile can take out multiple targets.

Powered by solid fuel propellants, Prahar has a length of 7.3 metres, diameter of 420 mm, and weighs 1,280 km. It takes about 250 seconds to reach a target 150 km away. It carries a payload of 200 kg.

It is not known if the new missile will be armed with small, tactical nuclear bombs but it is the officially declared policy of the Indian Government that India would not use nuclear weapons first, and never against non-nuclear countries reported India Strategic website.

DRDO scientists would attempt to reduce the weight of the missile as the tests progresses. Reduced weight of the propellant rocket would compensate for higher explosive package.

Prasun K Sengupta reports that ‘Prahar’ surface-to-surface battlefield support missile is destined to replace about 350-odd existing Prithvi SS-150 liquid-fuelled battlefield interdiction missiles that are now nearing the end of their service lives. The ‘Prahar’ will reportedly come packed in a six-unit pod configuration on board a high-mobility BEML wheeled vehicle housing both a SATCOM-equipped command-and-control shelter as well as a transporter-erector-launcher mechanism designed by Larsen & Toubro.
The ‘Prahar’ follows a relatively simple three-element design, comprising a warhead in the fore section, propulsion unit, including the solid-fuel rocket motor with a nozzle. The nozzle is encircled by the navigation, flight control and guidance unit, which includes the integrated avionic guidance and flight control section, cruciform tail control surfaces, actuators, related antennas and connectors. The ‘Prahar’ can be launched within few minutes from unprepared positions thus providing significantly better reaction time than the liquid-fuelled Prithvi missiles. In fact, any target whose location is known within the range of the missile can be attacked within less than 10 minutes from the launch decision. Each ‘Prahar’ will be housed within a disposable sealed cannister providing a 10-year service-life and very low maintenance costs.

India has an advanced home grown missile program now, which took time to develop, but is now maturing rapidly with various missiles being tested or developed from 40 to 8,000 km. Prahar is developed to provide Indian Army a cost effective, quick reaction, all weather, all terrain, high accurate battle field support tactical system.

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Air Force Vice-Chief Raghunath Nambiar Flies Rafale Jet In France

Nambiar flew a sortie while sitting in the first seat of the cockpit. Rafale deliveries to the Indian Air Force will begin in November 2019. The Rafale jet has kicked up a political storm over alleged irregularities. Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar flew a Rafale model that is like the one that will be delivered to the Indian Air Force

Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar, who is the deputy chief of the Indian Air Force, today flew a Rafale fighter jet that has been customised for Indian needs. He flew a sortie in France while sitting in the first seat of the twin-seat fighter jet.

India has signed a deal to buy 36 Rafale jets from French aircraft manufacturer Dassault Aviation. The deal was announced in 2015, during PM Narendra Modi's visit to France.

An inter-governmental agreement (IGA) was signed formally by India and France on January 25, 2016. Under the deal, Dassault Aviation would sell India 36 customised Rafale medium multi-role combat aircraft. The deal is worth around Rs 58,000 crore.

The customisation are specific to the Indian Air Force, i.e. the Rafale fighter jets that India is getting under the deal will be unique to the country and arguably more advanced than the ones used by the French Air Force.

Today, Air Marshal Nambiar flew a Rafale jet that is exactly like the ones Dassault will begin sending to India next year. The first set of Rafale jets are expected to arrive in India in September 2019.

Air Marshal Nambiar is the second senior-most officer in the Indian Air Force. Here he is seen with the Rafale jet he flew in France

The Indian Air Force will operate two Rafale jet squadrons of 18 aircraft each. One squadron will be based out of the Indian Air Force base in Ambala, Haryana while the other squadron will be operated from Hashimara, West Bengal.

Rafale is in focus on India as the deal for the 36 aircraft has kicked up a political storm. The Congress has alleged irregularities in the Rafale deal and has claimed that Anil Ambani's Reliance Defence is getting undue benefits out of the deal.

The Congress has questioned the government about it is unwilling to release detailed information regarding the Rafale jet's price.

The Congress has claimed that the Narendra Modi government at the Centre is buying the Rafale jet for a much higher price than what the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government had nearly negotiated when it was in power.

The UPA deal, which was for 126 aircraft, fell through. The UPA deal would also have involved some Rafale jets being manufactured by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in India.

The Congress has alleged that the Modi government did the Indian Air Force a disserve by reducing the numbers of Rafale jets being purchased and by cutting HAL out of the deal.

The government, on the other hand, has completely rejected the allegations saying that its deal is actually cheaper than the UPA deal and that is the UPA that dropped HAL from the Rafale deal in the first place.

The government has also said that it cannot reveal detail price information due to a 'secrecy clause' in the deal it has signed with France. Unofficially, it is said that the need to protect the price is so that confidential information about the India-specific upgrades the Indian Air Force has sought does not become public.

Reliance Defence too has denied the Congress's charges, saying that it is not involved in the manufacture of Rafale jets in any manner.

U.S. & Indian Soldiers Share Weapons Knowledge

1st Lt. James Farley, a Soldier with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, receives instruction from an Indian army soldier on the use of the 30 mm Automatic Grenade System during a weapons demonstration Sept. 18, 2018, at Chaubattia Military Station, India.

CHAUBATTIA MILITARY STATION - Soldiers of the U.S. Army's 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, and the Indian army's 99th Mountain Brigade, held a weapons demonstration at Chaubattia Military Station, India, Sept. 18, 2018.

During the demonstration, soldiers learned the specifications and firing techniques of the each nation's weapon systems. This was part of Yudh Abhyas, an exercise that enhances the joint capabilities of both nations through training and cultural exchange, and helps foster enduring partnerships in the Indo-Asia Pacific region.

"I am excited to see how the Indian and American forces work together and see how the Indian weapon systems compare to ours," said Spc. Kevin Hunt, a Soldier with 1-23 Infantry. "I am excited to learn as much as I can from the Indian army. The Indian army Soldiers are friendly and are very welcoming and knowledgeable." 

It great being in India, said Pvt. Christian Perez, a Soldier with 1-23 Infantry. He 19 years old and India is the first country he has visited outside of the U.S.

"Learning from the Indian army has been a lot of fun," said Pvt. Robert Flynn, also a Soldier with 1-23 Infantry. "It is good to see how they do things and they can see our techniques and we both can learn from that experience."

Official U.S. Army Communique

Defence Minister Must Resign Over HAL Statement: Rahul

NEW DELHI: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday accused Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman of "lying" on HAL's capability to build Rafale aircraft and demanded her resignation.

The Congress chief took to Twitter to attack Sitharaman, alleging that her position as the defence minister has become untenable as a former chief of the state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has "nailed her lie".

"The RM (Rafale Minister) tasked with defending corruption has been caught lying again. The former HAL Chief, T S Raju, has nailed her lie, that HAL didn't have the capability to build the RAFALE. Her position is untenable & she must resign," he tweeted and tagged of a media report on the former HAL chief's assertion.

The Congress has alleged that the government caused loss of over Rs 41,000 crore to the exchequer and endangered national security by bypassing the state-run HAL in favour of some businessman "friends" for offset contract in the Rafale deal.

Under India's offset policy, foreign defence entities are mandated to spend at least 30 per cent of the total contract value in India through procurement of components or setting up of research and development facilities.

Sitharaman had earlier told PTI that it was former defence minister AK Antony's unprecedented intervention that led to the deal being cancelled after the price negotiation committee had almost finalised the deal.

The charge has been denied by Antony as false.

Sitharaman had also accused Antony of not supporting HAL in getting the Rafale deal.

The Congress has stepped up the attack on the government over the Rafale deal and is seeking to make it a major poll issue ahead of assembly elections in some key states later this year and the parliamentary election in 2019.