Monday, October 23, 2017

Five Ways Artificial Intelligence Is Aiding Defence

DRDO/CAIR Gun Mounted Remotely Operated Unmanned Ground Vehicle

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is making sweeping changes in every area it touches and the Indian Defence is no exception. The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has a laboratory – Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (CAIR) – that exclusively researches, prototypes and builds AI-based solutions for applications in Indian Armed Forces.

CAIR Has Built The Following Solutions:

1. Robots for non-destructive testing of composite parts of Light Combat Aircraft (Tejas).

2. RoboSen: A mobile robot system targeted at patrolling, reconnaissance and surveillance. It is capable of autonomous navigation in semi structured environments with obstacle avoidance capability and continuous video feedback.

3. Miniaturised man portable Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) for low intensity conflicts and surveillance.

4. Also under their belt, a Chess playing Robot, robots for inspection of components and an intelligent wheel chair for physically challenged persons.

5. Network Traffic Analysis (NETRA) monitors internet traffic. It can analyse voice traffic passing through software such as Skype, Google Talk and intercept messages with key words attack, bomb, blast, kill and other words in real time.

Other possible applications of robots include functions ranging from a sentry to a surgeon in the battle field. Eventually, difficult operations like mining, de-mining and flying across water obstacles will see AI applications. Field logistics is another area that will benefit from the use of robots.

What Should The Indian Armed Forces Look At?
DRDO's Bomb Disposal Unmanned Remotely Operated Vehicles

Projects like Multi Agent Robotics Framework (MARF) are unleashing a wide range of robot force for various uses, just like the Armed Forces use its soldiers. However, AI offers a wider scope.

Here are a few areas that Indian Armed Forces can look at:

● Image interpretation for target identification and classification

● Systems for maintenance of sophisticated weapon systems

● Missile – target range and trajectory analysis for evaluation of kill zones and launch time.

Big Picture: What Are The Moral Implications?

According to AnalyticsIndiaMagazine, using AI-based systems for support and managerial jobs is one thing, but utilizing Artificial Intelligence for developing non human combatants is a completely different thing. One wrong move and the AI based system can turn against its creator. So, questions abound in matters of legality, morality and usefulness of the systems. But the Indian Armed Forces is not relenting yet – it is making use of AI based systems in every area it can use, taking a leaf out of the strategies of the United States.

Indian Navy To Review Operational Effectiveness At High-Level Meet Tuesday

The biannual conference serves as a platform for thorough interactions between the naval commanders, chiefs of the Army and Indian Air Force, besides senior government officials.

In the backdrop of China’s increasing military presence in the Indian Ocean Region, the Indian Navy at a high-level meeting in Delhi starting from Tuesday will discuss plans to enhance its footprint in the region with a review of its operational effectiveness for sustaining distant operations, indigenisation efforts for self-reliance and modernisation of its warfare capabilities by unmanned systems.

These issues will be discussed at the Naval Commanders’ Conference, which will be held from October 24 to 27. The biannual conference serves as a platform for thorough interactions between the naval commanders, chiefs of the Army and Indian Air Force, besides senior government officials. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman will interact with the commanders during the conference. Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba with his commanders will review major operational, human resource, training and administrative activities undertaken in the past six months.

“The Commanders will also discuss plans for enhancing and sustaining the Indian Navy’s operational footprint in the IOR in keeping with the Prime Minister’s vision of ‘Security and Growth for All in the Region’ (SAGAR),” says the Indian Navy.

In relation, initiatives to progress maritime cooperation with other navies in the IOR will be reviewed. The Indian Navy already conducts the Malabar naval exercise with the navies of US and Japan in the Indian Ocean. Furthermore, the navy’s ability to pro-actively respond to maritime security challenges, including natural calamities, in the IOR will also be discussed. The Navy adds that its, "combat readiness would be reviewed with focus on operational effectiveness of combat platforms, logistics and development of shore support infrastructure for sustaining distant operations."

A 2015 Indian Navy document titled Ensuring Secure Seas: Indian Maritime Security Strategy mentions that the Indian Navy’s interest areas cover the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, IOR island nations and East Coast of Africa among other nations. The South China Sea, East China Sea and Western Pacific Ocean are also its priority areas.

Rex Tillerson To Stress On India's Role In Afghanistan Plan

It is no coincidence that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will visit India on October 24 on the very day Tillerson lands in India

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s three-day (Oct 24-26) visit to New Delhi will underline the Trump administration’s strategy to make India the centrepiece of Washington’s South Asia policy, with an eye on stabilising Afghanistan and establishing a rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific to counter-balance an expansionist China.

While Tillerson will visit Islamabad ahead of New Delhi during his five-nation trip, the US Secretary of State is expected to deliver a blunt message to his Pakistani hosts about cracking down on safe heavens of terror – a point highlighted by him during his recent remarks on the Indo-US partnership.

During his speech at Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) on Oct 19, Tillerson had said: "We expect Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorist groups based there that threaten its own people and the broader region,” he said. “It is the obligation, not choice, of every civilised nation to combat the scourge of terrorism. The United States and India are leading that regional effort together."

It is, therefore, no coincidence that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani will visit India on Oct 24 on the very day Tillerson lands in India. The Trump administration has put India as the key player in its Afghan strategy – a point that was also underlined by US Defence Secretary James Mattis during his visit last month, according to officials.

While India has made it clear that it will not send troops to Afghanistan, it will work with the US on strengthening the security architecture for the Afghan government through information sharing and training of security personnel. India’s key role will be to boost the socio-economic conditions of the Afghan people, undertake infrastructure projects and build capacity of the Afghan government – factors that will further enhance Delhi’s goodwill in the landlocked country. Delhi is working with both the US and Russia to safeguard its interests in Afghanistan.

Tillerson will meet his counterpart Sushma Swaraj and call on PM Narendra Modi. He would also meet the NSA Ajit Doval, seeking to firm up the Afghan partnership and South Asia strategy, and strengthen the strategic partnership and collaboration on security and prosperity in the Indo-Pacific region, according to officials. The counter-terror partnership will figure in Tillerson’s meetings with his interlocutors here. India and the US are cross-screening known and suspected terrorists, and later this year, the two countries will convene a new dialogue on terrorist designations.

It is also not a mere coincidence that Tillerson chose to visit India just after the party congress of the Communist Party of China that would further consolidate President Xi Jinping’s resolve to pursue an aggressive foreign policy. Beijing’s expansionist stand now encompasses the Asia-Pacific, where the US has been a traditional power in the post-World War II period.

While Tillerson as part of Trump administration’s strategy would seek to make India as the key state in Asia to counter-balance China, the leadership here would seek to understand US commitment to the region ahead of the President’s five-country tour next month. It is not yet certain how much would the US like to contain or accommodate China, said an expert on the US foreign policy.

Tillerson, though, made the right noises at the CSIS speech. On that occasion, he juxtaposed the rise of India and its bigger neighbor, saying: “China, while rising alongside India, has done so less responsibly.” Elaborating further on the issue, he added the “need to collaborate with India to ensure that the Indo-Pacific is a region of peace and stability.”

From Tejas Fighter To Bullet-Proof Jackets, Indian Army Gets Boost As Drdo Develops Indigenous Tech For Arms

PROSPINA Anti-Tank Guided Missile undergoing final tests at the Pokhran Test Range

Tejas fighters, bullet-proof jackets, Trawl System, Anti-Tank Guided Missile, Several Types of Missiles, Imaging Infrared and to new food processing techniques, DRDO is developing indigenous technologies for the Indian Army

A number of Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) developed weapon systems, platforms, dual use equipment have been accepted and inducted in the Indian armed forces and paramilitary forces. Technology developed by Defence Materials and Stores Research and Development Establishment (DMSRDE), a Kanpur-based premier laboratory of DRDO, for bullet-proof jackets was recently handed over to Kanpur-based company MKU Ltd. This technology is challenging and one of the most significant matured personal protection systems developed by DRDO among the various GSQRs of Indian Army meeting NIJ III+ Standard, which refers to ballistic resistance of a body armour. DRDO has urged the private sector MKU to maintain a strict vigil on the quality of the bullet-proof jackets and to collaborate with DRDO to absorb the technologies developed by it.

Some of the notable successful tests completed and inducted are Tejas fighters, Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) System, Akash Weapon System, SONAR systems, Varunastra Torpedo, Bharani Weapon Locating Radar (WLR), Nuclear Biological Chemical (NBC) Recce Vehicle, AGNI-V, Long Range Surface to Air Missile (LRSAM), Medium Range Surface to Air Missile (MRSAM), NAG, Advanced Towed Array Gun (ATAG), Wheeled Armoured platform (WhAP), RUSTOM-II MALE Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, etc.

R&DE (Engrs), a premier system engineering laboratory under Armament & Combat Engineering (ACE) cluster of DRDO has recently undertaken the design and development of Trawl System for the minefield area in the battle zone to meet the operational requirements of Indian Army.

The indigenous developed Trawl System is employed for breaching land mines and creating a vehicle safe lane, through a minefield for the advancing columns of mechanised forces in combat zone. The equipment consists of Trawl roller, track width mine plough and electro-magnetic device (EMD), which identifies all types of mines usually encountered by the battle tank in such a scenario. The Trawl System developed by DRDO is capable of breaching a variety of land mines, including passive and active influence mines.

The Trawl system recently crossed a major milestone with the successful completion of blast trials in collaboration with HEMRL Pune, which demonstrated the survivability of the equipment when subjected to successive series of blast directly underneath it. The fieldable prototype of the Trawl System is in the final stage of realisation and would be shortly ready for conduct of user evaluation trials by the Army. The indigenous development of Trawls by DRDO is an important step towards achieving self-reliance in the area of critical military equipment under ‘Make in India’ initiative and would result in saving of precious foreign exchange for the country.

Recently, the final Development Flight Trials of Astra – Beyond Visual Range Air to Air Missile (BVRAAM) were successfully conducted over the Bay of Bengal, off the coast of Chandipur, Odisha. A total of seven trials were conducted against Pilotless Target Aircrafts (PTA) successfully. This effort for building a state-of-the-art BVRAAM by DRDO, together with Indian Air Force (IAF) has completed the development phase of the weapon system successfully. Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) has played a role in modifying the aircraft for weapon integration. More than 50 public and private industries have contributed in building the Astra weapon system. S Venugopal, programme director, led the launch operations and flight trials along with the teams from multiple organisations.

After a successful trial of the Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) Prospina back in June 2017, the missile has passed its final trial in Rajasthan’s desert range recently before its induction into the army. The DRDO successfully tested the flight of India’s indigenously developed third generation ATGM, also known as ‘Nag’, twice in the Rajasthan test range. The Nag project, now re-launched under the name Prospina, is a 4-km range missile system incorporated with most advanced technologies. The missile has high resolution Imaging Infrared (IIR) Seeker, which can sense heat or infrared signals in three different thermal scenarios.

Goa’s nascent food processing industry could be heading for a technology boost with latest technologies in preservation and packaging coming in from DRDO. According to Shashi Bala Singh, head of Life science cluster, DRDO, “The organisation is targeting about 100 technology transfers to Goan units for processing of local agricultural produce such as cashew, coconut, jackfruit, etc.”

The technologies were showcased at a two-day industry conclave on food technology organised by the Goa Small Industries Association (GSIA) and directorate of industries, trade and commerce (DITC) in collaboration with the DRDO. While the DRDO is known for its core competencies in various areas of military technology, its life sciences department is involved with developing technology for the armed forces. The technology development is by the DFRL and it is cost effective as the fees charged by the laboratory are Rs 20,000-2.5 lakh.

About 142 processing technologies have been developed by the DFRL in categories such as ready-to-eat foods, energy bars, biscuits, instant food mixes, etc. Companies that are selling food products using defence technology include prominent players such as MTR, ITC, Kohinoor Basmati, PaperBoat, etc.

Putin's Special Envoy Reaches Out To India On Afghanistan

by Sachin Parashar

Russia's new ambassador, Nikolay Kudashev, has arrived in India. The ambassador-designate (he is yet to present his credentials) met Jaishankar on Friday. In a welcome address earlier this month, Kudashev said cooperation with India constituted a top priority of Russia’s foreign policy

NEW DELHI: In a significant regional security outreach, Russian President Vladimir Putin's special envoy Zamir Kabulov recently visited Delhi and held discussions with NSA Ajit Doval and foreign secretary S Jaishankar, top government sources told TOI.

The government has not yet made the visit public keeping in mind the sensitive nature of the discussions but official sources here said all issues related to regional security were discussed, with special focus on the developing situation in Afghanistan and the role of Pakistan. As Putin's special representative, Kabulov is responsible for Moscow's Afghanistan policy. 

TOI had first reported on September 20 that Russia, which wants dialogue with the Taliban, had proposed a visit by Kabulov to engage India more in the Afghanistan peace process+ . This was shortly after the US outlined its new policy on Afghanistan over which Moscow continues to nurse serious reservations.

Russia's insistence on engaging the Taliban and its recent overemphasis on Pakistan's role in Afghanistan seemed to suggest a divergence of interests with India. Moscow believes that the real threat to the region comes from Islamic State and not Taliban.

Kabulov is believed to have reiterated before top Indian officials Russia's position that the US finds itself stranded in a veritable cul-de-sac — with Taliban now controlling over 40% of Afghan territory — and that these circumstances warranted talks with those in the Taliban who were willing to give up violence.

Afghan army commanders though have accused Russia of even arming the Taliban like in the western province of Farah. These allegations have been strongly refuted by Kabulov.

Russia's growing strategic proximity to Pakistan too has been an area of concern for India. After the US proclamation of its Afghanistan policy, Kabulov was quick to defend Pakistan saying that Islamabad had a critical role in ensuring stability in the region. Russia, though, has been supportive of India's position on cross-border terrorism as is evident from its recent support to the government in convincing China to drop its opposition to the naming of terror groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed in the Xiamen Brics declaration.

India's Planned Third Russian Nuclear Attack Submarine To Operate By 2023

Project 971 Akula II Class SSN Attack Submarine

India has decided to go ahead with its plan to lease a third nuclear attack submarine from Russia. Sources said a Project 971 SSN hull classification general-purpose attack submarine has been picked out from among many options and that the boat would undergo massive repairs and modernization at a Russian shipyard before being handed over to India. 

As per a TASS report, India is pushing for a plan to station a technical team at a Russian shipyard to witness the complex refitting and modernization process of nuclear attack submarines. The refit will be carried out at the Russian shipyard in Severodvinsk and the refitted boat will be named ‘INS Chakra-III.' The entire process will be completed over an estimated six-year time frame.

Acquiring another nuclear attack submarine (SSN) from Russia in not only prudent but also exigent for India's national security. An SSN is required to influence events in distant areas of the country's maritime interest, where conventional surface and integral aviation cannot operate due to whatever reason.

The Indian Ocean is becoming increasingly important to China's economic and security interests as a strategic waterway which helps keep its economy going. Therefore, China’s military presence there will keep growing. However, the struggle for the strategic maritime routes is only one of the reasons India is modernising and augmenting its attack submarine force.

Indian Navy is also awaiting the delivery of a second Project 971 (Akula-Class) SNN which it had leased from Russia a year ago. The Indian Navy (IN) currently operates two SNNs; the oldest of which is the INS Chakra, formerly the Russian Navy's K-152 Nerpa, commissioned into the Indian Navy in April 2012. India's second SSN, INS Arihant, is the indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine commissioned in August 2016.

At present, negotiations are underway to accommodate India's desire to send a delegation of shipbuilders to the Severodvinsk yard to witness and assist in the refitting and modernization of the third SSN India intends to lease. The hands on experience would be of significant help to Indian shipbuilders who are being tasked with the responsibility of constructing at least six nuclear-powered submarines, locally at an estimated cost of over $12 billion.

TASS Report Translated From Russian

US Considering Indian Request For Combat Drones For Air Force

The armed drones, the Indian Air Force (IAF) believes, would help it strengthen its defence capabilities

WASHINGTON: The Trump Administration is "considering" India's request for armed drones for its air force, according to a senior American official.

"Yes, yes," the administration official told PTI when asked about India's pending request about the purchase of armed drones as part of its armed forces' modernisation drive.

The armed drones, the Indian Air Force (IAF) believes, would help it strengthen its defence capabilities.

Early this year, the IAF had requested the US Government for General Atomics Predator C Avenger aircraft. It is understood that IAF would need 80 to 100 units making it approximately a whopping USD 8 billion deal.

The Trump Administration's consideration in this regard comes months after a successful meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump at the White House on June 26, during which the US announced to sell 22 unarmed Guardian drones to India, which would add the Indian Navy's surveillance capabilities in the strategic Indian Ocean region.

"We are at ways to, in terms of Foreign military sales, but really also in defence cooperation broadly how to strengthen our relationship and cooperation," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The official was responding to questions on defence relationship and India's quest for high-tech defence equipments and technologies from the US as part of its long overdue armed forces' modernisation drive running into several hundred billions of dollars over the next decade.

Previous Obama Administration had designated India as major defence partner and the Trump Administration has accelerated the process of considering Indian requests.

"The US Navy and the Indian Navy have been cooperating for many years on counter piracy efforts, on ensuring freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean and the and Red Sea and the Persian Gulf," the official said.

"I think that (defence) cooperation is only going to increase based on the need for it to increase and the kind of trust that we are building through personal relationships and through a fundamental understanding that our interests aligned so clearly," the official said.

Last week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had said that in keeping with India's status as a major defense partner and their mutual interest in expanding maritime cooperation, the Trump administration has offered a menu of defence options for India's consideration, including the Guardian UAV.

"We value the role India can play in global security and stability and are prepared to ensure they have even greater capabilities," Tillerson had said ahead of his visit to India.

He did not mention about armed drones. He, however, said "the proposals the US has put forward, including for Guardian UAVs, aircraft carrier technologies, the Future Vertical Lift program, and F-18 and F-16 fighter aircraft, are all potential game changers for our commercial and defence cooperation."

Necessary Changes Made To Main Battle Tank Arjun Mark II: DRDO

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) Chairman S Christopher today said necessary modifications have been made to the advanced version of the indigenous Arjun Mark II main battle tank as recommended by the Army.

The DRDO chairman expressed confidence that the tank will be accepted by the Army.

The Army had asked for 93 improvements to the tank which includes the capability of firing the anti-tank LAHAT missile, laser protection suite and improved armoured protection for the vehicle.

"We have done the modifications... it will go through the trials and there is a possibility that Arjun MK II (battle tank) will be accepted by Army and two regiments have already agreed to induct the tanks," said DRDO Chairman, while talking to reporters here.

Christopher was here to inaugurate POINTS 21 Batch of Post Induction Training School program for newly inducted DRDO scientists at the Defence Institute of Advanced Technology here.

As per DRDO, Arjun Mark II can fire missiles, has advanced explosive reactive armour panels, mine plough, automatic target tracking, advanced land navigation system, digital control harness and advanced commander panoramic sight among other features.

Arjun will have a better gun barrel with an equivalent firing charge (strength of the barrel to sustain firing) of 500 rounds against the T 72's 250 rounds.

The Chennai-based Combat Vehicle Research and Development Establishment has designed the Mark II version of MBT at its facility there.

Lucknow-Agra Expressway To Be Closed Tomorrow As IAF Plans Touchdown

This is for the "first time" that transport aircraft (AN-32) will "land and then take off" from this highway, an official said

LUCKNOW: The Lucknow-Agra Expressway will be closed for commuters from 10 AM tomorrow till 2 PM on October 24 as the Indian Air Force (IAF) plans to conduct a major touchdown exercise involving 20 planes, including the AN-32, Mirage 2000 and Sukhoi Su-30MKI, on the highway.

This is for the "first time" that transport aircraft (AN-32) will "land and then take off" from this highway, an official said.

According to PRO, Defence (Central Command), Gargi Malik Sinha, the IAF will conduct the aircraft touchdown exercise on the Agra Expressway near Bangarmau in Unnao district.

"It is for the first time that any transport aircraft will land and then take off (on the highway). The AN-32 are meant for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. The aircraft can bring a large amount of relief material and can also help in evacuating people," Sinha said.

In all, 20 aircraft including AN-32 transport and fighter planes like Mirage 2000, Jaguar, Sukhoi 30 MKI will take part in the exercise, she said.

"Two AN-32 planes will participate in the October 24 Expressway touchdown," the PRO said.

To ensure a smooth conduct of the touchdown by IAF aircraft, traffic restrictions will be placed on the Agra- Lucknow Expressway for general public from October 23 to October 24.

In a letter sent to district magistrate Unnao, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Uttar Pradesh Expressways Industrial Development Authority (UPEIDA) Awanish Awasthi said that Indian Air Force was planning to conduct highways flying operations on October 24 on the airstrip of Agra- Lucknow Expressway in Unnao district.

The letter further said, "It is to bring to your notice that due to Diwali vacation, a lot of traffic is moving on the expressway. Hence, keeping in view the convenience of the expressway users, it is proposed to stop the use of expressway for general public from 10 AM on October 23 to 2 PM on October 24".

The CEO asked the Unnao district magistrate to ensure that sufficient police force is deployed to control the public and movement of authorised vehicles on expressway and also take measures to ensure safe flying operations on the scheduled day from 8 am till 1 pm.

Eyeing More Sale of Rafales, French Defence Minister Florence Parley Heads To India Next Week

France is very keen to hard-sell additional Rafale fighters to India after the IAF inducts the 36 jets being acquired under the Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion) mega deal inked in September last year

NEW DELHI: French defence minister Florence Parley will be here next week to lay the groundwork to further boost the bilateral strategic partnership ahead of President Emmanuel Macron's visit to India in December.

France is very keen to hard-sell additional Rafale fighters to India after the IAF inducts the 36 jets being acquired under the Rs 59,000 crore (7.87 billion) mega deal inked in September last year.

The IAF has itself projected the operational need to go in for another 36 Rafales after the first 36 are inducted at the Hasimara (West Bengal) and Ambala (Haryana) airbases from November 2019 to mid-2022, as was earlier reported by TOI.

During her visit here on October 27-28, Parley will hold a delegation-level meeting with her counterpart Nirmala Sitharaman on a wide range of issues, including defence projects, maritime security and counter-terrorism, apart from also meeting PM Narendra Modi and others.

Parley will also be travelling to Nagpur to lay the foundation stone for a joint venture facility being set up between Rafale-manufacturer Dassault Aviation and Reliance Defence to execute the 50% offsets obligation under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked last year. Sitharaman, however, is unlikely to accompany Parley for the function.

The Modi government had inked the deal for the 36 Rafales, with their weapon packages, associated supplies and logistics, after scrapping the long-pending and deadlocked $20 billion MMRCA (medium multi-role combat aircraft) project for 126 fighters on the ground that they were a "critical operational necessity" for the IAF.

France, of course, is also one of the four remaining contenders for Project-75 (India), under which six advanced stealth submarines are to be built here through a collaboration between a foreign ship-builder and an Indian shipyard for an estimated Rs 70,000 crore ($10.9 billion).

'Ideal Allies': Why India-Russia Defense Cooperation Has Deep Roots

Army General of the Indian Armed Forces Durga Prasad Nudurupati (second left), Deputy Commander of the troops of the Eastern Military District Lt-Gen Sergei Solomatin (center) and Acting Commander of the 5th Combined-Arms Army Major General Roman Kutuzov (second right) visit the Sergeyevsky testing grounds in the Primorye Territory during preparations for the Indra-2017 Russian-Indian military exercises

The largest-ever Indian Army contingent reached Russia for its first-ever tri-service exercise. India has termed exercise INDRA 2017 as a landmark event of India-Russia defense cooperation. But political analysts Andrei Frolov and Alexander Khramchikhin suggest that bilateral military cooperation goes a long way back for India and Russia.

The India-Russia military exercises are being held from October 19-29, 2017.

The Indian contingent comprises 350 personnel of the Indian Army, 80 Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel and 480 Indian Navy personnel. Two IL-76 aircraft, one Talwar class frigate and the anti-submarine warfare capable INS Kadmat corvette are a part of the contingent. 

The Special Forces and the Navy's elite MARCOS commandos are also a part of the team.

​The Russian Federation Armed Forces is represented by approximately 1,000 troops of the 5th Army, as well as marines and ships of the Pacific Fleet and aircraft from the Eastern Military District.

​Although these exercises are the largest ever, military cooperation between Russia and India goes a long way back.

Regular Customer

The language barrier has never been an obstacle for the participants of the drills. Many Indian officers were trained in Russian military universities and can speak Russian well. They perfectly know Russia military vehicles because they have been using them for more than half a century.

Hence, military-technical cooperation between Russia and India has a long history and originates back to the 60s. The USSR built warships for the friendly state, supplied aircraft and small arms, and helped with ammunition.

According to Andrei Frolov, the editor-in-chief of the magazine “Export of Arms,” today India is interested in Russian arms more than ever.

“The contract for heavy Su-30MKI fighters has reached the fourth stage – they are almost completely assembled in India, we supply only individual components. To date, the Indian Air Force has more than 200 aircraft of this type,” Frolov said.

He further said that in 2015, a contract was signed for the supply of 200 multipurpose Ka-226 helicopters. The supply of Mi-17 military transport aircraft also continues and India already has over 200 of these aircraft.

​The Indian Navy also has Russian-made Ka-28 anti-submarine warfare helicopters, and last year, during a visit to India by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a memorandum was signed on the delivery of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

The expert recalled that quite a lot of agreements have been reached regarding the ground forces’ tech also. The main component of the Indian Army is 1,000 units of T-90S tanks.

“Last year, the Indian military approved the purchase of 464 T-90MS tanks for $2 billion. Russia is also modernizing the military equipment of India, as, for example, MiG-29 fighters. They will be replaced soon by the newest MiG-35. The Indian delegation was keenly interested in this aircraft at the MAKS 2017 aerospace show,” Frolov said.

Ideal Allies

Kashmiri Muslim protesters hold a flag of Islamic State as they shout anti-India slogans during a protest in Srinagar, Indian controlled Kashmir, Friday, April 8, 2016

Despite military prosperity, Russia and India do have a number of disagreements that make it difficult to cooperate. The Indian side has increasingly demanded that Russia not only sell weapons to it, but also share technical documentation and industrial secrets. 

In addition, the geopolitical factor has a significant influence on the relationship.

However, the deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, Alexander Khramchikhin, believes that there are no irresolvable contradictions between the two countries. 

“I would even call us ideal allies in a number of areas, for example, in the fight against Islamic terrorism,” Khramchikin said.

But according to the analyst there is one problem that seriously hampers cooperation and that is the fact that “Russia, so to speak, pushes India into an alliance with China, although it, on the contrary, needs an alliance against China. These states have enough disagreements: border disputes, the friendship between the PRC and Pakistan and many other factors,” he said.

The expert stressed that the two countries have great prospects, but it is necessary to gradually resolve the existing contradictions, by, for example, actively advocating the union of India and China. In the long term, the alliance of Russia, China and India could become the strongest military bloc on the planet.

Rex Tillerson To Have Big Regional Agenda During India Visit

Regional issues could take precedence over bilateral ones, as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives here on Tuesday

He is expected to raise Washington’s new South Asia policy with respect to Pakistan and Afghanistan and prospects for more cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, officials and diplomats told The Hindu.

“The possibility of an India-Pakistan dialogue will be discussed, and Mr. Tillerson will also brief his Indian counterparts on the outcome of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group [U.S.-China-Afghanistan-Pakistan] meeting on talks with Taliban that took place in Oman on October 16,” a source familiar with the planning for the visit said.

After meetings in Pakistan, Mr. Tillerson will arrive here the same evening. He will hold bilateral talks on Wednesday with External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi. From Delhi, he is expected to travel to Kabul to meet President Ashraf Ghani. However, the stop at the Afghan capital is yet to be finalised given the security concerns, especially after the Kabul airport attack during the surprise visit of U.S. Defence Secretary James Mattis in September. Significantly, Mr. Ghani will visit New Delhi for a day on Tuesday before returning to Kabul.

“He is coming to meet the Indian leadership and hold a strategic consultation, particularly in the wake of the new U.S. policy for Afghanistan and South Asia,” a diplomat told The Hindu.

External Affairs Ministry officials told The Hindu that talks with Pakistan were not on the cards at present.

Envoy Meets Sushma

In a development that Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed but described as purely “customary”, Pakistan’s new High Commissioner in Delhi, Sohail Mahmood, met Ms. Swaraj on October 17.

“The Minister and the High Commissioner took stock of the current state of Pakistan-India relations,” the Ministry said, dismissing reports that they had discussed the Kulbhushan Jadhav trial and the dropping of charges against LeT chief Hafiz Saeed.

Officials told The Hindu that Mr. Tillerson and Ms. Swaraj will discuss pending bilateral issues on Wednesday as well, including enhancing trade, the U.S.’s pitch to sell India UAV drones, F-16s and F-18s, and the outstanding decisions on the “foundational agreements” in defence.

Army Finalising Plan To Modernise 2,000 Military Stations

Top Army brass had deliberated extensively on the implementation of the project during the recent commanders' conference

NEW DELHI: The Army is finalising a plan to modernise around 2,000 military stations and develop them in line with the government's smart city initiative.

Army officials said 58 military stations have already been identified as part of the pilot project to implement the ambitious initiative.

They said all cantonments will be part of the project.

"We are looking at developing the military stations as smart cities where all modern amenities will be made available. Developing state-of-the-art IT network will be a key feature," said a senior Army official.

Top Army brass had deliberated extensively on the implementation of the project during the recent commanders' conference.

"We are planning to develop all military stations across the country in a time-bound manner," said the official.

The initiative is part of the Army's overall modernisation drive that envisages significantly ramping up infrastructure at all its military installations across the country.

Another official said the Army is also moving forward with the implementation of the reform measures recommended by the Lt Gen (Retd) D B Shekatkar committee which includes redeployment of nearly 57,000 officers and other ranks to enhance the combat capability of the force.

The panel had suggested optimisation of signals establishments, closure of military farms and army postal establishments in peace locations as well as restructuring of repair echelons in the Army. The officials said steps were being taken to implement the recommendations.

The officials said the 65 reform measures recommended by the Shekatkar committee will be implemented by December 31, 2019.

China Says Negotiations Helped End Doklam Row

"This year, India military crossed the borderline into China's territory. Of course, it has safely been resolved," China's People's Liberation Army office Liu Fang said.

The 73-day-long Dokalam standoff was "safely resolved" after several rounds of talks with India, a top Chinese military official said today on the sidelines of the ongoing Congress of the ruling CPC.

People's Liberation Army (PLA) official Liu Fang spoke about the resolution of the Dokalam standoff citing it as an example of how the Chinese military is trying to resolve issues through dialogue mechanisms with different countries.

"We also conducted a lot of practical cooperation," she said referring to the Doklam standoff which began on June 16 when the Chinese military attempted to build a road in the territory claimed by Bhutan close to the Chicken's Neck area connecting India's north eastern states with the mainland.

The standoff ended on August 28 with mutual understanding after China halted the construction of the road.

"Of course it is safely resolved right now," Liu said.

"My colleagues in the military and other ministries worked very closely and held negotiations with the Indian side many times," while China clearly reiterated its position, she said.

"All of this contributed a lot to the peaceful resolution of China-India cross border dispute," she said, referring to the standoff.

Observers attach significance to the PLA acknowledging peaceful resolution of the Dokalam standoff, at the CPC Congress which is set to endorse a second term for President Xi Jinping.

The Chinese military is working hard to build up new platforms and measures to improve international cooperation she said, adding, "we already have dialogue mechanisms with 28 organisations".

Referring to the address of President Xi at the once-in- five-years Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on October 18, Liu said she is "very very inspired" by the report delivered by him outlining "tremendous progress and achievements".

In his address, Xi had spoken about plans to turn the PLA into a world class force. 

Terming the speech as "profound and fundamental," she said "we totally agree with it".

Besides being president, Xi also heads the CPC and the country's military as chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the overall high command of the 2.3 million-strong PLA, the world's largest army.

Liu said China is playing a larger and greater role in increasing its international influence.

China is making efforts in international peacekeeping, maritime cooperation and disaster relief.

"All this shows our responsibility as a big power nation. We keep our voice louder and louder at the international stage," she said.

The Chinese military is showing its confidence in the international arena and its spokesmen actively interacted with the international media to explain the version of Chinese army and also correct misunderstandings, she said.

"By doing so we want to convey the correct, clear and accurate information about China's military development," Liu said.

She along with other young military officials interacted with the media sharing their experiences in the military and their appreciation of Xi's leadership.

The Chinese military, which has undergone a massive reform drive since Xi took power in 2012, has an annual budget of over USD 141 billion, next only to the US.

OPV Provided By India Goast Guard To Sri Lanka Navy Commissioned

Offshore Patrol Vessel CG 60, which the Indian Coast Guard had provided to the Sri Lanka Coast Guard (SLCG), was commissioned by State Minister of Defence Ruwan Wijewardene as SLCG Ship ‘Suraksha’ at a ceremony held at Colombo Harbour on Saturday.

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