Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Missile Manufacturer BDL To Have Rs 25,000 Crore Orders


The company has an MoU with Thales, UK for STARSTREAK missiles (pictured). It is also in talks with various OEMS to get new technologies. In this file image, former Defence Minister Arun Jaitley inspects a missile at the handing over ceremony of Long Range Surface to Air Missle (LRSAM) developed at BDL to the Indian Naval command in Hyderabad

HYDERABAD: Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), a defence public sector undertaking, will have an order book of Rs 25,000 crore for the next five years, including Rs 8,084 crore orders currently on hand. 

BDL Chairman and Managing Director Siddharth Mishra told reporters on Tuesday that except one export order, all others were from the Indian armed forces. 

The existing orders will be executed by 2023-24 and include seeker-based multi-role air defence missile MRSAM being jointly developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI). 

BDL, which entered its golden jubilee year on Tuesday, plans to set up a facility at Amaravati in Maharashtra for manufacturing of VSHORADS missiles. The facility will be established based on the orders and it is likely to cost Rs 300 crore. 

Mishra said BDL was engaged in co-development programs with the DRDO for QR SAM, Akash 1S, Akash NG, MPATGM, ASTRA missiles as well as Sonobuoys (a a navigation mark equipped to detect underwater sounds and transmit them by radio). 

The company has an MoU with Thales, UK for STARSTREAK missiles. It is also in talks with various OEMS to get new technologies. 

BDL is currently manufacturing Anti-Tank Guided Missiles like MILAN-2T, Konkurs-M, Invar, surface-to-air missiles like Akash and MRSAM, underwater weapons like light weight Torpedo (TAL), heavy weight Torpedo (Varunastra), C-303 and counter measures dispensing systems for various aircraft platforms of the Indian Air Force.


‘Pakistan Relentlessly Expanding Nuclear And Missile Arsenal’

A Chinese supplied nuclear capable Pakistani ballistic missile during a parade in Islamabad

Pakistan is “relentlessly” expanding its armed forces, especially nuclear and missile capabilities, despite being engulfed in a financial crisis, says the Indian defence ministry (MoD). In its latest annual report, the MoD says Pak army has further “consolidated” its position as the “institution driving Pakistan’s foreign security and defence policies” after the Imran Khan government came to office in August last year. An Indian defence ministry report said Pakistan army has further ‘consolidated’ its position as the ‘institution driving foreign security and defence policies’ under the Imran Khan government

NEW DELHI: Pakistan is “relentlessly” expanding its armed forces, especially nuclear and missile capabilities, despite being engulfed in a financial crisis, even as it continues to “persistently target” India with state-sponsored cross-border terrorism, says the Indian defence ministry (MoD). 

In its latest annual report, the MoD says Pak army has further “consolidated” its position as the “institution driving Pakistan’s foreign security and defence policies” after the Imran Khan government came to office in August last year. 

The MoD’s assertion about Pakistan’s rapidly-growing nuclear and missile arsenals is in tune with international assessments that the country now has 140-150 nuclear warheads as compared to 130-140 of India. 

With its expanding uranium enrichment and plutonium production facilities, Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile could realistically grow to 220-250 warheads by 2025 if the current trend continues, as per the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists. Pakistan, of course, owes much of its progress in the nuclear and missile arenas to clandestine help from China and North Korea over the years. 

Noting that there were global concerns regarding proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, which pose a “serious” danger to international security, the MoD said, “WMD terrorism will remain a potent threat as long as there are terrorists seeking to gain access to relevant materials and technologies for malicious purposes.” 

The MoD report, turning to Pakistan army’s active support to anti-India terror outfits, said, “It has avoided taking action against jihadi and internationally proscribed terror outfits that target its neighbours.” 

“Support to such groups persists. Such outfits continue to be encouraged to infiltrate into India under the cover of the massive cross Line of Control and cross-border firing in Jammu and Kashmir and other areas throughout the year,” it added. 

Though there has been a 43% decrease in net cross-border infiltration into J&K so far this year, coupled with a recent decline in use of artillery and other heavy-calibre weapons in ceasefire violations, the MoD attributes it more to the “successful preemptive” aerial strikes against the “largest” Jaish-e-Mohammed training facility at Balakot in Pakistan on February 26 as well as other retaliatory measures rather than a genuine change of heart in Islamabad. 

India will “continue to take robust and decisive steps to ensure its national security” till Pakistan takes “credible and irreversible steps” to dismantle the terror infrastructure as well as stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control, said the MoD. 

Even as Imran Khan’s austerity plans dictated by the International Monetary Fund has led to widespread resistance in his country, the MoD says: “The political situation in Pakistan continues to remain challenging with a severe deficit of inclusive and balanced economic development.” 

“The country has been torn by ethno-regional conflicts, with the zone of conflict expanding from tribal areas on Pakistan-Afghanistan border to the hinterland. Religious extremism is also on the rise,” it added.


Shortage of Certain Spare Parts of AN-32 Jet Due To Strain In Russia-Ukraine Ties


"More than half of Indian Air Force's AN-32 aircraft have been upgraded with structural upgrade as well as installation of advanced avionics such as radar, radio sets, navigation system etc and the remaining are under upgradation in a phased manner. The serviceability of the fleet has been at par with other fleets," he said.

In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said the Indian Air Force (IAF) has 98 AN-32 aircraft and none has outlived its operational life. (IE photo)

There is shortage of certain Russian-origin spare parts of AN-32 transport aircraft due to strained relations between Russia and Ukraine, the government said Monday. In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said the Indian Air Force (IAF) has 98 AN-32 aircraft and none has outlived its operational life.

“More than half of Indian Air Force’s AN-32 aircraft have been upgraded with structural upgrade as well as installation of advanced avionics such as radar, radio sets, navigation system etc and the remaining are under upgradation in a phased manner. The serviceability of the fleet has been at par with other fleets,” he said. “There is shortage of certain spares of Russian origin due to strained relations between Russia and Ukraine,” Naik added.

Russia had annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 following which the ties between the two nations strained. In response to another question, he said 500 terrorists were killed in counter terrorist (CT), counter infiltration (CI) and terrorist initiated incidents (TII) in 2017 and 2018. In a written response to a question in the Rajya Sabha, Naik said 235 and 265 terrorists were killed in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

Eighty-five Army personnel died in “battle casualties” in 2017 and 2018, he said. Jammu and Kashmir saw 131 terrorists initiated incidents in 2017 and 318 in 2018, he added. Replying to another query on transportation along the China border, he said the development of strategic infrastructure along border areas is undertaken in a holistic and comprehensive manner to include construction of roads, strategic railway lines, tunnels to ensure all weather connectivity and to enhance defence preparedness along the border.

Accordingly, a revised ‘Long Term Roll on Works Plan’ of Border Roads Organisation for five years (2018-19 to 2022-23) has been formulated for construction/improvement of 272 roads of length 14,545 kilometres. “Out of these 272 roads, 61 roads of length 3323.57 kilometres have been identified as strategic.

Work has been completed on 2,304.65 kilometres and work on balance stretches is in progress. “Further, in addition to meeting the operational requirement, the above-mentioned roads on completion would also enhance accessibility to border areas where the border infrastructure and forward connectivity is lacking,” he said.


ISRO's 'Bahubali' Falters, Casts Shadow On Gaganyaan Manned Mission


The stalling of Chandrayaan-2 on Monday due to a leak in the cryogenic engine of GSLV-MK-III has put a question mark over Indian Space Research Organisation’s future missions, including Gaganyaan. The manned mission slated for 2022 and missions to Sun (2020) and Venus (2023) are all dependent on the same rocket which now needs to be fixed

SRIHARIKOTA: The stalling of Chandrayaan-2 on Monday due to a leak in the cryogenic engine of GSLV-MkIII has put a question mark over Indian Space Research Organisation’s future missions, including Gaganyaan. The manned mission slated for 2022 and missions to Sun (2020) and Venus (2023) are all dependent on the same rocket which now needs to be fixed. 

GSLV-MK-III is called ISRO’s ‘Bahubali,’ as it can lift up to four tonnes. The earlier versions of GSLVs and the most successful rocket PSLV can carry much less mass. 

Though it took ISRO several years to develop GSLV-MK-III, ISRO has done only two development flights of the rocket. GSLV-MK-III is a three-stage vehicle — two large solid boosters as the first stage, two liquid engines (Vikas) as the second stage and a cryogenic upper stage. It is the cryogenic stage that has been giving ISRO the trouble. ISRO has been planning to use an upgraded version of GSLV-MK-III for Gaganyaan which would take three Indian astronauts to space for five to seven days. To meet the 2022 deadline, ISRO has to conduct two unmanned tests of the rocket. ISRO chairman K Sivan had earlier told TOI, “ISRO is planning to have the first unmanned mission of Gaganyaan in December 2020 and the second in July 2021.” 

If Chandrayaan-2 continues to hang in balance due to technical challenges of the vehicle, so would Gaganyaan. That would also mean uncertainty over the Aditya mission planned for the middle of next year to study the sun’s corona and its impact on climatic change.


Chandrayaan-2 Launch Put Off, Maybe For A Few Moons

A composite image of GSLV-MKIII, Chandrayaan-2 Lander, Orbiter and the Rover

Five sources independently confirmed to TOI that the launch was put off because of a leak in the cryogenic stage. “After filling liquid oxygen (oxidiser) and liquid hydrogen (fuel), helium was being filled. After filling helium, we found the pressure was dropping, indicating there was a leak,” a senior scientist told TOI. The launch of Chandrayaan-2 on July 15 was postponed because of “a technical snag,” officials said

SRIHARIKOTA: A leak in the helium bottle of the cryogenic engine of GSLV-MK-III forced the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) to abort the launch of Chandrayaan-2 early on Monday. The launch was called off just 56 minutes before the scheduled lift-off at 2.51 am. 

While ISRO officially confirmed “a technical snag” in GSLV-MK-III, five sources independently confirmed to TOI that the launch was put off because of a leak in the cryogenic stage. “As a measure of abundant precaution, Chandrayaan-2 launch has been called off for today. Revised launch date will be announced later,” ISRO tweeted.

“After filling liquid oxygen (oxidiser) and liquid hydrogen (fuel), helium was being filled. The procedure is to pressure the helium bottle up to 350 bars and regulate the output to 50 bars. After filling helium, we found the pressure was dropping, indicating there was a leak,” a senior scientist told TOI. “The team is yet to pinpoint the exact spot of the leak in the gas bottle; there could be multiple leaks.”

Significantly, a leak of the oxygen tank was detected during a ground test of an identical cryogenic engine on June 22, but ISRO decided to go ahead with the launch. A senior scientist told TOI that ISRO would “come back soon”, indicating the agency is trying to get the rocket off ground before the present launch window ends on July 31. The next best launch window (which ensures full 14 Earth days for the lander and the rover on Moon) comes in September. 

For some 5,000 spectators who had gathered from across the country for the first ever public viewing of a rocket launch in Sriharikota, it was a disappointing end to a night-out of patriotism and revelry of science. Among those in the VIP gallery of the mission control centre was President Ram Nath Kovind. 

The ₹978-crore Chandrayaan-2 project is to use GSLV-MK-III, a three-stage launch vehicle with an indigenous cryogenic stage powered by a C-25 engine as its upper stage. The cryogenic stage uses liquid hydrogen (LH2) as fuel and liquid oxygen (LOX) as oxidiser. 

Glitch During June 22 Test

As a practice for all big missions, ISRO had built two C-25 engines and one is tested rigorously on ground. During the ground test on June 22, a source said, a leak of liquid oxygen was detected. The team decided to “waive off” the anomaly and go ahead with the launch as scheduled. “It didn’t mean that the flying engine would have the same problem, but there was always a probability. It was a calculated risk,” said a scientist. 

A source said the leak could have happened at a weak joint of the chambers. “In layman terms, this works like a pressure cooker. When your gasket is weak, as the steam builds, you see water getting out of the lid instead of the ‘weight’ going up because of the pressure. Here, it could be possible that some welded joints were weak, causing a leak,” he said. 

Another scientist said the ‘failure analysis board’ may be ready with an initial report as early as Tuesday. “The final report may take a few weeks,” he said.


Defence Deals: India, Russia Agree On New Payment Mode To Skirt U.S. Sanctions


India’s S-400 deal signed in October last is among agreements with Russia that are cumulatively worth $10 billion

India and Russia have agreed on a new payment method through their national currencies for multi-billion-dollar defence deals, in a bid to avoid risks created by the U.S. threat of sanctions and banking restrictions.

The arrangement would enable India to pay the first instalment soon for two warships that Russia is building for its navy, two people familiar with the matter said in New Delhi, without elaborating. Defence contracts will be settled in roubles and rupees under a payment agreement reached by the central banks of Russia and India, said a person in Moscow with knowledge of the preparations.

While the new mechanism potentially opens the way for releasing billions of dollars in contract payments to Russia, it may still be dependent on India winning agreement from U.S. President Donald Trump not to impose sanctions in retaliation.

Russia has faced an uphill struggle to maintain sales by its strategic defence sector, which totalled $19 billion last year, partly because of U.S. sanctions that threaten anyone who buys Russian weapons. Even though the U.S. has applied those only once so far -- against China -- the fear has cast a pall over Russia’s export business. The world’s second largest arms exporter after the U.S., Russia suffered a 17% drop in foreign weapons deals from 2014-2018 amid declining purchases by India and Venezuela, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.

Seeking Waiver

An increasingly important U.S. partner, India also has long-time strategic ties with Moscow dating back to the Soviet era in the Cold War. Despite the decline in sales, Russia accounted for 58% of the south Asian nations arms imports from 2014-18. The U.S. has been pushing New Delhi, unsuccessfully so far, to cancel a more than $5 billion contract to buy Russian advanced S-400 air-defence missile systems, brandishing the threat of punitive measures.

Still, India is attempting to obtain a U.S. presidential waiver for its arms purchases. Turkey, a North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state, is facing the threat of U.S. sanctions over its S-400 purchase from Russia, which began delivery on Friday.

Delivery of the S-400 to India is planned to start after 2020 and issues with payment have been resolved, the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation said last month, according to the state-run Tass news service.

Promsvyazbank PJSC, a central bank-controlled Russian lender that has been tasked with financing the defence industry to shield the two biggest state-owned banks Sberbank and VTB from the threat of U.S. sanctions, is ready to play a role in the Indian transactions, the person in Moscow said.

India’s S-400 deal signed in October is among agreements with Russia that are cumulatively worth $10 billion. They include joint production of Kamov KA-226T helicopters worth $1 billion, and four warships for the Indian Navy, with two of the vessels built in Russia and two at a shipyard in India under a technology-transfer agreement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March inaugurated a rifle plant in Amethi that will produce 750,000 Kalashnikov AK-203 rifles under a joint venture between India and Russia.

Stopped Payments

After the U.S. sanctioned Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport in late 2017, the State Bank of India stopped payments to Russia for Indian arms purchases, a person familiar with the matter said.

The 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act, called CAATSA, requires the imposition of sanctions on persons and entities that knowingly engaged in a significant transaction with Russia’s defence or intelligence sectors. The U.S. State Department decides whether a transaction is significant under the legislation, while the 2019 National Defence Authorisation Act provides for a presidential waiver from sanctions.

Minister of State for External Affairs Vellamvelly Muraleedharan on Wednesday told the parliament that the country’s need for the S-400 had been clearly conveyed to the U.S. during Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s visit in June.

The Bank of Russia didn’t respond to a request for comment. The State Bank of India and Promsvyazbank didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. A spokesman for Defence Ministry of declined to comment.

VTB late last month denied an Indian media report that it would process Indian payments in euros for the arms purchases, avoiding use of the dollar.

It was clear from the beginning that it wouldn’t work either in euros because the global financial system is so dependent on the U.S. that no one will dare to do this, said Ruslan Pukhov, head of the Centre of Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a defence-industry consultant in Moscow.

Russia is trying to resurrect practices we had in Soviet times by clearing in rupees and rubles, Pukhov said.


Army Goes All Out Against Honey Trapping, Put Hundreds of Its Personnel Under Surveillance


The Army had a few days ago expressly directed personnel on the force not to join any social media like the Facebook and Twitter, besides chat groups like WhatsApp

NEW DELHI: The Army is going all-out to stop its personnel from falling into honey traps and has identified about 100 men who are on social media and present a danger to the force.

“We have identified about 100 men and put their activities under intensive and extensive observation,” said a senior Army officer on Monday.

“We have reasons to believe that they may have been already compromised and shared sensitive information with unauthorised persons,” he said.

The Army had a few days ago expressly directed personnel on the force not to join any social media like the Facebook and Twitter, besides chat groups like WhatsApp since they could turn out to be the medium to leak sensitive details.

The Army believes there is a pro-active enemy conspiracy to use social media to profile, segregate and trap personnel in uniform and seek details which compromise national security.

What makes the job difficult, as accepted by the officer, is that every year about 50,000 youth joins the Army at the average age of 20 years.

“They are the most vulnerable lot.”

The Army Chief had in January warned of a ploy by enemy operatives using pictures and names of female Bollywood actors to befriend soldiers.

Technological advances and almost free mobile and internet services have made things even more difficult. 

“Pakistan-based agencies operate a large number of fake Facebook and Twitter accounts and also infiltrate social media groups or contact individuals in the name of young girls. Their aim is to actively try and befriend serving and retired officials and subsequently try to nurture, allure, blackmail and coerce them into parting with sensitive information,” the officer said.

He said the newer mobile phones are loaded with sophisticated software which not only click clear pictures from afar but can also provide quick scans of documents and help share them faster.

In March 2018, the then MoS, Defence, Subhash Bhamre had told the Lok Sabha that in between 2015-18, five cases of honey-trapping had been detected.

Arrests Made

July 13, 2019: Army Jawan Ravindra Kumar arrested from Narnaul, Haryana
May 15, 2019: A havildar arrested in Mhow, MP
Jan 11, 2019: Sepoy Sombir Singh, 22, arrested from Jaisalmer
Feb 2, 2018: Group Captain Arun Marwah held in Delhi


Closed Since Balakot Strike Pak Opens Its Air Space For All Civilian Traffic, India Says Its 'Islamabad's Decision' 


The country had earlier claimed that it would not open its airspace for commercial flights until India removed its fighter jets from forward Indian airbases

Pakistan had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after the Indian Air Force carried out aerial airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot on February 26.

Pakistan has said it has reopened its airspace to all civilian planes following months of restrictions after the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out airstrikes on a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror camp in Balakot earlier this year.

Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority cancelled the Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) for its airspace from 12:38 am on Tuesday, a step taken by India as well. Airlines are likely to resume normal routes through Pakistan airspace after the restrictions were lifted.

“With immediate effect, Pakistan airspace is open for all type of civilian traffic on published ATS (Air Traffic Service) routes,” the NOTAM issued by the authority said.

Pakistan had earlier said it would not open its airspace for commercial flights until India removed its fighter jets from forward Indian airbases.

The neighbouring country had fully shut its airspace on the eastern border with India after the strike on Balakot on February 26. The strikes on the terror camp were in response to the JeM-perpetrated terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama on February 14. Forty personnel of the Central Reserve Police force (CRPF) were killed in the attack.

In March, Pakistan partially opened its airspace but did not allow Indian flight to fly over its airspace. It opened one of its 11 air routes for west-bound flights from India mid-April -- airlines like Air India and Turkish Airlines have started using it.

Foreign airlines using Indian airspace have been forced to take costly detours because they cannot fly over Pakistan. The closure mainly affects flights from Europe to Southeast Asia.

Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor and the airspace restrictions impacted hundreds of commercial and cargo flights each day, adding to flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.


India Expects ICJ Relief For Kulbhushan Jadhav Amid Pakistan Trial Gaps, Access Denial


India has sought annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence and his immediate release, saying the verdict it failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process. Pakistan, on its part, accused India of using the ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save Jadhav from execution

NEW DELHI: India is hoping for a favourable verdict at The Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday in the case pertaining to its national Kulbhushan Jadhav, who is on death row in Pakistan on charges of spying for India’s intelligence agency, the Research and Analysis Wing.

Rubbishing Pakistan’s claims that Jadhav was arrested on March 3, 2016, from Pakistan’s Baluchistan province, India has said that the retired Indian Navy officer was kidnapped from Iran, where he was running a business. India has based its case on two broad issues – breach of the Vienna Convention on consular access and the process of resolution.

Jadhav was sentenced to death by a Pakistani military court in April 2017 on charges of espionage and terrorism. The ICJ in The Hague has asked Pakistan to hold off the execution till it reaches its final verdict in the case.

India has sought annulment of Jadhav’s death sentence and his immediate release, saying the verdict it failed to satisfy even the minimum standards of due process. In December 2017, Jadhav’s mother and wife travelled to meet him in Pakistan.

India called the exercise “lacking in any credibility” and said the “overall atmosphere of the meeting was intimidating”. Jadhav’s mother and wife were forced to change their clothes and not allowed to speak in their mother tongue, and his wife’s shoes were never returned, the external affairs ministry said.


The verdict is slated to come days after the meeting on Sunday between India and Pakistan at the Wagah border to discuss the draft agreement for finalising the modalities of the Kartarpur corridor. It will come ahead of Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan’s US visit next week and US-Russia-China deal on Afghan peace process in which Pakistan is playing a critical role.

There is a possibility that the ICJ may ask Pakistan to hold a fresh trial of Jadhav in the background of two cases involving Indians in Pakistani jails. Sarabjit Singh, who was given the death sentence on charges of espionage, died in an attack by other inmates after languishing in jail for 22 years.

Mumbai techie Hamid Ansari was released last year from the Lahore jail after India’s intervention.

In February, India presenting its case in the Jadhav case in ICJ, asserting that Pakistan had nothing beyond an extracted confession.

Representing India advocate Harish Salve said, “Pakistan claims to have clinching evidence on the basis of articles in the Indian press. The story contradicts facts in Pakistan’s FIR.”

Responding to Pakistan’s questions about Jadhav’s nationality, Salve said that Jadhav is a former Indian Navy officer, which is proof of his nationality. “Unlike Pakistan, India has never needed to deny nationality of its nationals. Indian nationals are not the kind whose nationality needs to be denied.” He argued that Pakistan had made three attempts to derail proceedings in the ICJ, all of which failed.

He said Pakistan did not uphold Article 36 of the Vienna Convention which states that consular access applies to all nationals, regardless of espionage claims.

Salve said that the ICJ had already upheld the importance of consular access under Article 36 in two previous cases — LaGrand (Germany Vs USA) and Avena (Mexico Vs USA).

Pakistan, on its part, accused India of using the ICJ for “political theatre” as it urged judges to dismiss India’s case seeking to save Jadhav from execution.


Wife of Pilot Killed In Bangalore's Mirage-2000 Crash To Join Air Force


Garima Abrol cleared Services Selection Board in Varanasi

New Delhi: Garima Abrol, wife of Squadron Leader Samir Abrol who was killed earlier this year while test flying a Mirage 2000 fighter jet in Bengaluru, has cleared the Services Selection Board, paving the way for her to join the Indian Air Force.

She will join the Air Force Academy in Telangana's Dundigal and the Indian Air force in January 2020, Retired Air Marshal Anil Chopra announced on Twitter. He called Ms Abrol a "woman of exceptional substance" in his tweet, posted along with a photo of the couple and a more recent post-training photo of Ms Abrol.

"Not all woman are made equal some are Armed forces Wives," he said.

Squadron Leaders Samir Abrol, 33, and Siddhartha Negi, 31, were killed after the Mirage 2000 fighter jet crashed on its take-off run on February 1. The two young IAF pilots were killed even though they had been able to eject as the French-designed jet careened down the runway, broke through a barrier and a wall before exploding at about 10:25 am that morning.

Squadron Leader Siddharth Negi (left) and Squadron Leader Samir Abrol.

The ill-fated sortie "was to be flown with a target aircraft to check radar performance. A comparatively benign [flight] profile. The accident happened on [the] take off roll," said a senior Hindustan Aeronautics Limited test pilot who flew and handed over the very same Mirage 2000 fighter.

The ill-fated Mirage 2000 had been flown successfully six times by HAL test pilots who had certified the French-designed fighter which is being comprehensively upgraded in India, sources had said.


Rafale Offset Deal Will Help Train Indians: Nirmala Sitharaman


Nirmala Sitharaman was speaking at an event on the World Youth Skill Day

Speaking at an event on the World Youth Skill Day, the Union minister made an indirect reference to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s charge of irregularities in the offset contract of the multi-billion dollar Rafale fighter jet deal, saying that an agreement has been signed in front of everyone to detail what the jet maker Dassault would do as part of the contract. During the event, Dassault Aviation signed an agreement with ITI Nagpur.

“You all know about the discussion on Rafale. No money was given to any ‘Bhai’,” the minister said, in a possible reference to charges made by Gandhi against Anil Ambani, whose company signed one of the offset deals. The Centre, Anil Ambani and Dassault have all repeatedly denied the charges.

She said the money from the offset deal was for training purposes and an agreement in this regard had now been signed with Dassault. Dassault is the manufacturer of Rafale fighter jets.

Sitharaman also said that during the general elections, a campaign was waged that said Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given offset money to someone. “To whom he gave the money? The money is being given to you for training,” she said.


Inside Al-Qaeda’s Indian Homecoming: India Must Prepare For Ayman Al-Zawahiri’s Complex And Dangerous War


by Praveen Swami

Four weeks after his body had been blown apart by a Hellfire missile, Al-Qaeda third-in-command Mustafa Abu al-Yazid delivered his last testament. “I bring you good tidings,” his voice declared, through a tape posted online in the summer of 2010. “Last February’s India operation was against a Jewish locale in the west of the Indian capital, in the area of the German bakeries—a fact that the enemy tried to hide—and close to 20 Jews were killed”.

Few Indian counter-terrorism analysts believed the speech made sense: indeed, it was wrong on every significant detail, bar the fact that Pune’s Germany Bakery had indeed been bombed. That operation, though, was known to have been conducted by the Indian Mujahideen’s Mohammed Ahmed Siddibappa, also known as Yasin Bhatkal—with no known connections to Al-Qaeda.

Now, it’s clear India should have listened harder. The speech in fact described the first meetings between Indian jihadists and Al-Qaeda, leading up to last week’s declaration of war against India by Al-Qaeda’s chief. Even now, though, many experts dismiss the Al-Qaeda threat, arguing the real threat comes from Inter-Services Intelligence backed jihadist groups, not a mainly-Arab organisation without local roots.

This comforting wisdom is simply wrong: Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri’s war against India isn’t a new adventure, but a homecoming. Even worse, from India’s point of view, the dice are rolling the jihadist group’s way.

In 1980, when al-Zawahiri arrived in Peshawar to help lay the foundations for the Afghan jihad, he was no stranger to the milieu he found himself amidst. His maternal grandfather, Abdul-Wahab Azzam, a professor of oriental literature and president of Cairo University, had served as Egypt’s ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Yemen—and, in 1954, Pakistan. He had, notably, translated the poet-laureate of South Asian Islamists Mohammad Iqbal into Arabic.

For decades before the world started paying attention, Islamists in the Arab-speaking world and South Asia had engaged each other, laying the intellectual foundations for the long war they hoped would come. Karachi was the crucible for the process—and al-Zawahiri’s grandfather a key catalyst.

In his years as envoy to Pakistan, Azzam’s closest friends included Said Ramadan—son-in-law of the Islamist ideologue Hassan al-Banna, and the de-facto foreign minister of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood. Pakistan’s prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, had met Ramadan in 1948, when he visited Karachi to attend a World Muslim Congress. The relationship flowered through the early 1950s, with Khan even giving the Muslim Brotherhood leader a weekly radio programme to air his views.

Ramadan, journalist Caroline Fourest has recorded, “was omnipresent in the media, arguing, on every occasion, for legislation based on the Shari’a”. Ironically, this enterprise had support from the Central Intelligence Agency, which saw the Muslim Brotherhood as a hedge against communism.

The most important relationship to develop during this time was that between the leader of the Jama’at-e-Islami, Abul’ Ala Maududi, and the Egyptian Islamist ideologue Sayyid Qutb—then, a rising star in the Muslim Brotherhood. Introduced through Ramadan, the two men laid the foundations for the ideology that would flower into Al-Qaeda.

Persuaded that Hindu revivalism posed an existential threat to Islam in South Asia, Maududi advocated for a Shari’a-based, militarist state. Islam, he insisted, was not just a religion; it “is a revolutionary ideology which seeks to alter the social order of the entire world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals.”

Thus, Maududi concluded, it was imperative for Muslims to “seize the authority of state, for an evil system takes root and flourishes under the patronage of an evil government and a pious cultural order can never be established until the authority of government is wrested from the wicked.” To do this, Muslims must “eliminate un-lslamic governments and establish the power of Islamic government in their place”.

In his book Milestones—which fired the minds of generations of jihadists, including al-Zawahiri—Qutb seized on Maududi’s ideas. He acknowledged the intellectual debt, reproducing extended tracts in the Jama’at leaders’ 1939 essay, Jihad in the Way of Allah.

“Let me tell you what is it that makes the destiny of a nation,” Iqbal’s poem Bal-e-Jibril says, “the sword and dagger must take precedence over singing and dancing”: for everyone from Maududi to Ramadan, and Qutb to al-Zawahiri, this much was apparent.

“Liberating the Muslim nation,” wrote al-Zawahiri in Knights Under the Banner of the Prophet, released by al-Qaeda on the eve of 9/11, “confronting the enemies of Islam and launching a jihad against them, require a Muslim authority, established on a Muslim land, that raises the banner of jihad and rallies the Muslims around it”. He warned jihadists: “Without achieving this goal, our actions will mean nothing more than mere, repeated disturbances.”

Almost two decades later, it’s clear events didn’t pan out as al-Zawahiri hoped. Even though Al-Qaeda-affiliated movements today control far more territory than in 2001, there are no signs of the kind of revolution that would enable the creation of a state to act as a vanguard for the jihad.

From 2011, when al-Zawahiri took charge of Al-Qaeda, his mind has turned ever-more to South Asia. Building a subcontinental front to wage jihad, he believes, began to become an operational objective—its intimate alliance with the Taliban offering the keys to unlock the strategic objective of state power.

Early in 1996, when Osama bin Laden returned to set up base in the Taliban’s Afghanistan, references to India began appearing in Al-Qaeda literature. That year, for example, he issued a declaration condemning “massacres in Tajikistan, Burma, Kashmir, Assam, the Philippines, Pattani, Ogaden, Somalia, Eritrea, Chechnya, and Bosnia-Herzegovina”.

Al-Zawahiri’s 2001 book, similarly, called on Muslims to discharge “a religious duty of which the nation had long been deprived, by fighting in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Chechnya”.

After 9/11, the anti-India references in Al-Qaeda literature became more marked, appealing to the regional Islamist milieu by charging the Pakistani state of collaboration with Hindus and Jews. In September, 2003, for example, al-Zawahiri invoked India to warn Pakistanis that their President, General Pervez Musharraf, was plotting to “hand you over to the Hindus and flee to enjoy his secret accounts.”

Then, in 2007, Pakistani military ruler General Pervez Musharraf ordered troops to storm the neo-fundamentalist Lal Masjid seminary in Islamabad—catalysing a fateful shift in the politics of jihadist groups.

Abdul Rashid Ghazi, the seminary’s chief, was a graduate of one of Pakistan’s most famous Islamist centres, the Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia, which counts among its alumni Masood Azhar, the leader of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, Qari Saifullah Akhtar, who headed the Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and Fazl-ur-Rehman Khalil, the leader of Harkat-ul-Mujahideen.

Led by al-Zawahiri, a new phalanx of jihadists hostile to the Pakistan Army emerged in Miranshah. There, Al-Qaeda allied with Muhammad Illyas Kashmiri, the leader of Brigade 313 and a former Kashmir jihadist.

From multiple accounts, it’s clear at least some numbers of former members of the Indian Mujahideen—India’s most successful urban terrorist group—moved to join this grouping in Miranshah. Interestingly, jailed 26/11 perpetrator David Headley had told the FBI of a “Karachi project” run by Kashmiri, with plans to target India.

This group included Sana-ul-Haq, the Uttar Pradesh-born, Deoband-educated jihadist who now runs Al-Qaeda’s south Asia operations. Haq became involved in jihadist circles following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, the year after he graduated from Deoband. He left India, and joined the Jamia Uloom-e-Islamia in Karachi.

Haq was mentored by Nizamuddin Shamzai, a powerful cleric closely linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, who had bragged of being treated as a “state guest” in Mullah Muhammad Omar’s Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.

Later, he briefly taught at at the Dar-ul-Uloom Haqqania seminary in Peshawar, before becoming an instructor at the Harkat-ul-Mujahideen’s training camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

In 2013, Haq delivered an exhortation specifically targeting Muslims in India—the first of its kind in global jihadist writing. He invoked anti-Muslim communal violence in India, saying “the Red Fort in front of the mosque cries tears of blood at your slavery and mass killing at the hands of the Hindus”.

Even though Al-Qaeda is yet to stage operations of any significance against India, it has steadily developed the infrastructure it needs for a sustained campaign. In Kashmir, Al-Qaeda’s fledgling unit has attracted a small but steady flow of jihadists.

For India, new dangers lie ahead. First up, the apparently-inexorable return of the Taliban to state power in Afghanistan will give its Al-Qaeda allies the shelter of state power—a necessary condition, as al-Zawahiri understood, for the success of the jihad. Having learned from 9/11, Al-Qaeda will refrain from targeting the West, for fear of losing its state.

To demonstrate its jihadist credentials—and compete for legitimacy with rivals like the Lashkar—Al-Qaeda will instead focus on strategically less-dangerous targets, like India. For its part, the Pakistani state is likely to welcome such a project. Forced to temper its anti-India operations by international pressure, the ISI will see in Al-Qaeda a means to pursue its tactical ends by proxy.

Put simply, the jihadist threat is likely to become infinitely more complex, and dangerous, in the years to come. New Delhi would be wise to begin preparing itself to fight al-Zawahiri’s new war.


Defence Ministry Issues Rs 2000 Crore Tender For Critical Heavyweight Torpedoes For Submarines


"The tender for acquiring around 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the submarines for the Indian Navy was issued 10 days ago by the Defence Ministry," Defence Ministry sources told ANI

NEW DELHI: Seeking to boost the Indian Navy's firepower, the Defence Ministry has issued a tender worth over Rs 2000 crore for buying around 100 heavyweight torpedoes which would be equipped on the force's six Scorpene-class submarines being built at the Mumbai-based Mazagon dockyards.

"The tender for acquiring around 100 heavyweight torpedoes for the submarines for the Indian Navy was issued 10 days ago by the Defence Ministry," Defence Ministry sources told ANI.

The French-origin Scorpene submarines are being built in India at the Mazagon Dockyards Limited (MDL) and have now been named the Kalvari class. The first boat of the class called INS Kalvari has already been inducted into the Navy and is carrying out operational duties.

As per the details of the project, the immediate requirement of the Navy for heavyweight torpedoes would be met by the acquisition to be made through the foreign vendors while the long-term bulk requirement would be fulfilled through the 'Made in India' route.

The DRDO is also looking forward to using heavyweight torpedo as the next version of its light torpedoes for submarines and surface ships.

Global manufacturers from France, Sweden, Russia and Germany have been issued tenders for the heavyweight torpedoes for the Navy.

Italian firm Wass' Black Shark torpedoes were earlier selected for the project but the program had to be cancelled due to the involvement of scam-tainted Finmeccanica group in the VVIP chopper scam.

The nuclear fleet of Arihant class boats also requires torpedoes. INS Arihant is the first indigenously-built and developed nuclear submarine of the Indian Navy which has successfully carried out a deterrence patrol in the Indian Ocean region.

The remaining five boats of the Kalvari class are expected to join the Indian Navy in next four to five years.

The next boat in line is the INS Khanderi which is likely to be inducted in the force in the next few months.


India Not Excluded From Peace Process In Afghanistan: China


Representatives of China, Russia, and the US held their 3rd consultation on the Afghan peace process in Beijing on July 10-11 following which they also requested Pakistan to join for a surprise quadrilateral meeting. China has also been trying to iron out differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan over Kabul's allegations that the Taliban has been making use of Pakistani territory to stage attacks in Afghanistan

BEIJING: India has not been excluded from the efforts to bring peace in Afghanistan, China said Monday, days after it hosted a key meeting with the US, Russia and Pakistan on facilitating peace process in the war-torn country.

Representatives of China, Russia, and the US held their 3rd consultation on the Afghan peace process in Beijing on July 10-11 following which they also requested Pakistan to join for a surprise quadrilateral meeting.

"China, Russia, and the United States welcomed Pakistan joining the consultation and believe that Pakistan can play an important role in facilitating peace in Afghanistan", a joint statement issued at the end of the meeting said.

US special envoy for Afghanistan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad, who is currently holding talks with the Taliban to work out an agreement for withdrawal of the US troops and participation of the rebel group in the Afghan government, attended the meeting.

Briefing reporters about the meeting here on Monday , Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said "we have reached some consensus and exchanged views on the current situation in Afghanistan and our effort to help to restore peace and security".

He said all four countries had agreed to step up coordination and communication and jointly promote reconciliation and peace in Afghanistan.

Hinting that the quadrilateral meeting could be institutionalised in the future, Geng said the future meetings of the four countries will take place with mutual consultations.

Asked why India was not invited to the meeting, he said "China has been in close communication and coordination with all parties including India" on the Afghanistan issue.

The four countries have decided to hold the meeting based on mutual understanding, he said.

"I believe we (China, Russia, the US and Pakistan) don't exclude India in discussing and helping early settlement of the Afghanistan issue," he said.

The invitation to Pakistan to take part in the meeting came ahead of its Prime Minister Imran Khan's first visit to the US starting from July 21 to hold talks with US President Donald Trump during which the peace process in Afghanistan is expected to come up.

In December last year, President Donald Trump announced that the US would pull out troops from Afghanistan. The US still has about 14,000 troops in Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the US-led invasion to topple the Taliban.

Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of harbouring the Taliban militants who have been carrying out violent attacks and destabilising the country.

Last month, China formally acknowledged that it hosted a Taliban delegation headed by its chief negotiator Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar for talks here.

The meeting was seen as part of China's stepped-up efforts to enlarge its strategic role in Afghanistan as the US is negotiating its way out of the war-torn country.

Bardar has also been holding talks with Khalilzad.

China, a close ally of Pakistan, has also been trying to iron out differences between Pakistan and Afghanistan over Kabul's allegations that the Taliban has been making use of Pakistani territory to stage attacks in Afghanistan.

China has also been holding talks with India over the situation in Afghanistan.

Chinese Special envoy in Afghanistan Deng Xijun, who visited New Delhi in May, held talks with top Indian officials of the External Affairs Ministry.

India and China have also conducted a joint programme to train diplomats of Afghanistan.

Trump in his new South Asia strategy unveiled in August 2017 had sought a major role for India in bringing peace in Afghanistan.

He had accused Pakistan of giving "safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror," and said the time had come "for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilisation, order, and to peace".


ISRAEL SCAN: International Cooperation In Systems Manufacturing for Barak 8 Missile


RAFAEL presented a $100 M contract to KRAS (Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems India) for the manufacturing of 1,000 BARAK 8/ MRSAM missile kits to be supplied to BDL via IAI for further integration purposes.

Jointly developed by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Israel’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure, Elta Systems, RAFAEL and other companies, Barak 8 is a surface-to-air missile (SAM), designed to defend against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, and UAVs, as well as ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and combat jets.

KRAS is a Joint Venture between RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems and Kalyani Strategic Systems. The JV was established with the vision of manufacturing weapon systems required by the Indian Defence Forces, as well as for the export market.

Keeping with its commitment to Make-in-India, the JV partners are investing in Best-in-Class production facilities, a state-of-the-art engineering service and extended life-cycle-support for systems supplied to the Indian Defence forces. 

In its endeavour to fulfil the stakeholders’ vision of Make-in-India for the world, KRAS is expected to ramp up its employee strength to 300 technical experts by the year 2023, according to Rafael’s announcement.

Brigadier General EVP Pini Yungman, Head of RAFAEL’s Air Defence Systems Division emphasised KRAS’s commitment to the operational readiness of the Indian Army and Indian Air Force. “We at RAFAEL are proud of our role – not only in KRAS – but also of our participation in Make-in-India, and our strong relationship with the vibrant talent across India’s defence industries. As we mark the end of this project, we look forward to celebrating many more milestones with KRAS, as well as with our many other partners in India.”

RAFAEL Advanced Defence Systems Ltd. has a rich history of collaboration with India’s defence industries, resulting in multiple Joint Ventures and subsidiaries around the world and in India. These partnerships, over past two decades, have led RAFAEL to setup local partnerships to support its domestic needs as well as a global supply chain.