Thursday, January 24, 2019

India Navy Set To Open Third Base In Strategic Islands To Counter China

NEW DELHI: India's navy will open a third air base in the far-off Andaman and Nicobar islands on Thursday to beef up surveillance of Chinese ships and submarines entering the Indian Ocean through the nearby Malacca Straits, military officials and experts said.

New Delhi has grown concerned over the presence of China's bigger navy in its neighbourhood and the network of commercial ports it is building in an arc stretching from Sri Lanka to Pakistan that India fears could become naval outposts.

The Indian military has seized upon the Andamans that lie near the entrance to the Malacca Straits to counter the Chinese challenge, deploying ships and aircraft since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took office in 2014 promising a more muscular policy.

Indian navy chief admiral Sunil Lanba will commission the new base, called INS Kohassa, about 300 km (180 miles) north of the archipelago’s capital, Port Blair, the navy said in a statement.

The facility, the third in the islands, will have a 1,000-metre runway for helicopters and Dornier surveillance aircraft. But eventually the plan is for the runway to be extended to 3,000 metres to support fighter aircraft and longer-range reconnaissance aircraft, navy spokesman Captain D.K. Sharma said.

About 1,20,000 ships pass through the Indian Ocean each year and nearly 70,000 of them pass through the Malacca Strait.

"The underlying thing is the expanding Chinese presence. If we have to really monitor Chinese presence, we need to be adequately equipped in the Andaman islands," said former navy commodore Anil Jai Singh.

"If you have air bases you can cover a larger area," he said, adding he expected the navy to permanently deploy more ships to the islands in the next phase of the buildup.

A Chinese submarine docked in Sri Lanka's Colombo port in 2014 that drew such alarm in New Delhi that Modi's government raised the issue with the Sri Lankan authorities.

Both India and China have been locked in a contest for influence, with New Delhi trying to push back against Beijing's expansive diplomacy in the region.

This week, Indian defence officials are due to hold talks with the defence minister of the Maldives, Mariya Ahmed Didi, where New Delhi is seeking to repair ties after the ouster of its pro-China leader in a presidential election last year.

Chinese President to Visit India Soon Amid Diplomatic Stand-Off With US - Media

A diplomatic source told Sputnik that Xi Jinping’s India visit is likely to herald a new beginning in Indo-China relations with the resolution of the border dispute and ironing out of differences on the proposed Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP)

New Delhi: Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit India before March in what is being seen as an attempt to bolster ties with New Delhi in order to counter the headwinds blowing from Washington, according to a report in The Nikkei Asian Review.

The visit is being termed as a major diplomatic victory for India Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the face of a tough election in April-May this year, where over 850 million voters will decide whether his party should continue to govern.

The Nikkei Asian Review, quoting sources in New Delhi and Beijing, reported that the visit could take place in February at the earliest, or March after the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament.

"(Mr.) Xi is expected to discuss with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi measures to defuse border tensions, as well as propose deals to expand imports of Indian farm products and increase cooperation in advanced technologies", the Nikkei Asian Review report reads.

"RCEP Bilateral negotiations between India and China are crucial for early conclusion of RCEP negotiations", the Indian Embassy in Beijing said.

Sputnik reported in December that the two countries were discussing a concrete proposal on issues concerning the middle sector of the border where the dispute is considered minor. During Xi Jinping's visit to India, the issue may come up for discussion and any consensus reached will definitely boost the election prospect for Modi in the upcoming general election.

Meanwhile, according to The Nikkei Asian Review's report, the meeting between Xi and Modi could help the Indian prime minister domestically, as it would be "a golden opportunity to show voters a diplomatic victory ahead of an election in which he (is) likely faces an uphill fight".

M-777 Ultralight Howitzer, Self-Propelled K-9 Vajra Guns Set For Republic Day Debut

The guns will help the forces target the enemy even in hilly regions and can be transported using helicopters as well

India's newly-acquired M777 American Ultra Light Howitzer and self-propelled K9 Vajra artrillery guns are set to make their debut at the Republic Day parade at Rajpath in the national capital on January 26. According to news agency PTI, the same was confirmed on Wednesday by Major General Rajpal Punia, Chief of Staff, HQ Delhi area.

It is after a gap of almost 30 years, that the Indian Army is set to get two new artillery guns to add to its military might. They were inducted into the Indian Army in October 2018 by Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

A contract was inked with the United States of America for as many as 145 ultralight Howitzer M-777, of which 25 were slated to be brought to India in combat-ready condition. The remaining 125 guns were to be made in India with the help of Mahindra Defence. The supply of the guns was initially expected to begin March 2019.

The guns will help the forces target the enemy even in hilly regions and can be transported using helicopters as well. They will mostly be used by India’s first mountain strike corp in combat-like situations with neighbouring China.

On Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had inaugurated Larsen & Toubro's (L&T) howitzer gun-manufacturing unit at Hazira in Surat. The L&T had in 2017 won a contract worth Rs 4,500 crore to supply 100 units of the K9 Vajra-T 155 mm/52 calibre tracked self-propelled gun systems to the Indian Army. The contract was handed over to the company under the Centre's Make in India initiative.

"Had the privilege of inaugurating the Larsen and Toubro Armoured Systems Complex in Hazira, Gujarat. Boosting ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector is our endeavour. I am glad that the private sector too is supporting this pursuit and making a valuable contribution," Prime Minister Modi had posted on micro blogging site Twitter.

This is the largest contract that has been awarded by the Ministry of Defence to a private company. The L&T had signed a transfer of technology contract for guns with South Korean company Hanwha Corporation.

US-Pakistan Military Relations Seen Thawing As Washington Sends Fighter Jets For Joint Exercise

United States air force (USAF) advanced fighter jets have arrived in Pakistan for joint air exercise

In a sign that frosty relations between Islamabad and Washington could be thawing, the latter has sent fighter jets to the Falcon Talon-III joint air exercise, scheduled to take place at PAF Base Shahbaz in Sindh Province later this week.

The joint exercises come only a day after senior US Senator Lindsey Graham urged President Donald Trump to meet Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, as intense contacts between the two countries continue over negotiations to end the 17-year war with the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan.

"With Prime Minister Khan we have a unique opportunity to change our relationship. US President Trump would be far more enthusiastic about the region than he is today if he met Khan. Transactional relationship should be replaced with strategic partnership" Daily Pakistan quoted Graham as saying.

Relations between US and Pakistan have been strained after more than $ 1 billion worth of security assistance have been cut in light of accusations that the latter has been providing asylum to Afghan Taliban and Haqqani Network of armed groups.

Pakistan denies the charges, although in recent months the Foreign Office has, in several statements, acknowledged the country’s role as a “facilitator” in the process.

US Special Representative for Afghanistan Reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad held meetings with Pakistan’s foreign minister and army chief during a two-day visit on Thursday and Friday, with both sides pledging to continue the dialogue process and to facilitate talks with the Afghan Taliban.

The US has held several rounds of talks with Afghan Taliban representatives in the Qatari capital Doha and in the United Arab Emirates, although negotiations appear to have hit an impasse when last week the Taliban threatened to call off discussions, the report stated further.

New Policies To Meet New Challenges

With the new waves of technology influencing the battleground, it’s time the Indian defence establishment fine tunes its policies to suit the modern warfare tactics

by Manish Kumar Jha

An eventful year has gone by, specially for defence, and the sector got its share of media space in 2018 what with the unending debates on the Rs 58,000-crore Rafale fighter jets deal controversy and the Defence Budget issue. To further make it worse, the Bofors issue was exhumed in 2018 and the big-ticket defence deal only turned murkier with unending debates around it in the Parliament. Against the backdrop of the depleting squadron, the government bought 36 Rafale fighter jets by cancelling the Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) project in 2015. It happened at the cost of denying HAL the opportunity to make them in India under licence from Dassault, a French aerospace giant. To top it, diplomatic discord erupted with the US threatening COMCASA over another big-ticket purchase of air defence system S-400 Triumf from Russia by India. It was later thwarted at the ‘2+2’ ministerial dialogue’ with the US.

The IAF would be inducting its Apache and Chinooks helicopters alongside its first Rafale jets and enhanced Tejas fighters in 2019. The Indian Navy and the IAF are preparing for new inductions in 2019. The Navy would be inducting INS Karanj, a Scorpène-class submarine and three landing craft utility vehicles this year.

The Indian Navy’s plan to build and commission its second indigenous aircraft carrier (IAC-2) into service by 2030–32 has been further postponed due to the declining budgets, technological hurdle and delays by the Ministry of Defence in approving the programme. Therefore, the Navy must pursue the development of its second aircraft carrier, ensuring it is not delayed beyond 2020. The Army again spoke about the restructuring and rightsizing the forces for the future warfare. Thus, the debate continues.

Defence is an area where straight talk is the need of the hour. Therefore, 2019 should not be just about the follow ups of transfer of technologies (ToTs) and the cacophony of ‘Make in India’ rhetoric.

What Should We Expect? 

The Internet of the Battle Things (IoBT)

There could not be a better way to address the monstrous Defence expenditure, time and resources spent on filling the void by just buying the ‘most advance weapon’.

In the beginning of 2018, a question was posed by BW Businessworld to the newly appointed Defence Minister, which was conveniently ignored. It was a query on the futuristic warfare based on the hardware, which takes its cue from ‘everything on the internet or the IoBT. The modern warfare and the concept of drones, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are not just the ‘tools’ of warfare but a swarming reality. A research paper by the US Army Research Laboratory says, in some ways, IoBT is already becoming a reality but 20-30 years from now, it is likely to become a dominant presence in warfare. It is not to ignore the traditional infantry lined with gigantic tanks and fight generation fighter jets to keep the squadron high up in the sky. It is to realise the emerging side of modern conflicts and that is one suited to India.

In 2019, we expect things to be more optimistic. Well, if we could just align to the reality that is. The goal is not to beat around the bush but to get the act right as far as Defence is concerned.

The Draft Defence Production Policy 2018

The government had promulgated the Defence Production Policy in 2011, which aimed at achieving substantive self-reliance in the design, development and production of equipment, weapon systems, platforms required for Defence as early as possible; creating conditions conducive for private industry to play an active role in this endeavour, enhancing potential of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in indigenisation and broadening the Defence R&D base of the country. Recently, a draft Defence Production Policy 2018 was prepared and placed in public domain to provide a focused, structured and significant thrust to development of Defence design and production capabilities in the country. The Defence Production Policy 2018 has not yet been finalised.

This information was given by Defence Minister for the State Subhash Bhamre in a written reply in Rajya Sabha on 31 December 2018. Can we expect the finalisation of the draft and being implemented?

Disinvestment of DPSUs

Though the public discourse has been around Defence PSUs (DPSUs), but the matter still remains. How much water has flown over this is evident when the Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said, “The media must do some more research on this subject. It is actually better that soldiers buy uniforms on their own rather than from the ordnance factories. The ordnance factory vests are so thick that no one can wear them. So, we let the Jawan buy on his own, by his choice and when he wants. We are giving the access to quality clothing.”

Corporatisation was a cure-all solutions offered by various Ministry of Defence-appointed committees, headed by former revenue secretary Vijay Kelkar in 2005 to Vice Admiral Raman Puri in 2016, but never implemented by the government fearing a political fallout.

In 2018, the CAG had claimed that the OFB (Ordnance Factories Board) failed to deliver on time resulting in a shortfall in production, which accounts for 64-95 per cent of the types of ammunition in the country. Moreover, the CAG report also held the OFB accountable for the lack of supply sometimes up to a delay of 17 months.

OFB’s corporatisation will be again on the surface of any debate on the subject of disinvestment in Defence.

The Rise of Defence Budget

Through the Departmental Promotion Committee Armed Forces would seek an enhanced budget this year, as the last budget was considered the lowest (in percentage terms) since the 1962 India-China war. Considering the year 2019 is an election year, this may prove to be a difficult proposition as there could be another year of difficult financial management.

New Clear Offset Guideline

The Defence offset policy was formally announced for the first time in 2005 and has been revised several times. The key objectives of the Defence offset policy is to leverage the capital acquisitions to develop Indian Defence industry by fostering development of internationally competitive enterprises; augmenting capacity for research and development in Defence sector and to encourage development of synergistic sector like civil aerospace and internal security. Further avenues for discharge of offset obligations have been proposed in the ‘Draft Modifications to Defence Offset Guidelines’ released by the Ministry of Defence for public comments.

The huge import of Defence equipment – and there is little that will change – is crucial and it is an important area that needs to be addressed. The technology transfer and collaboration made under the offsets clause could be the panacea for the Indian Defence industry. The plaguing cost of R&D is hampering the private entities to ramp up to the advance level. It is a complex situation where government is required to do hand holding. A clear-cut offsets policy must be at the top of the agenda for the New Year.

Investment in Defence

Pursuant to the most recent amendment in 2016, FDI in the Defence sector was further liberalised to allow up to 49 per cent under the automatic route, and beyond 49 per cent to 100 per cent under the government approval route “on a case-to-case basis, wherever it is likely to result in access to modern technology or for other reasons to be recorded”. However, this did not result in new foreign investment or attract modern technology to India, given that the FDI influx in this sector was merely $0.18 million 2014 to 2016. Though, the Defence Ministry has recently revised claimed that the total FDI was in excess of Rs 437 crore through a fresh formula that was presented in the Rajya Sabha in December 2018.

Well, whatever be the formula, there will high expectation from the government to walk the talk. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s announcement of two Defence corridors – one in Tamil Nadu and other in Uttar Pradesh – is aimed to spur investment. Let us hope this garners enough attention.

Restructuring The Armed Forces

The year 2019 could prove to be a major test for the Army due to the severity of the ongoing reforms. Measures to implement changes in organisations will be concluded and amendments to its proposed structures would be near finalisation by end of 2019. It is important that this is implemented at the earliest, as the army continues to prepare for future threats with structures of the past. This would be the highlight of the Army as the necessary firepower of the colossal Indian army needs to be matched with the rising Dragon.

Joining Forces

Integrated Theatre Commands is a concept for the modern military apparatus. Adopted by several countries including China, the commands would combine under a single ‘theatre commander’ elements of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

However, in India, there are differences of opinion regarding the ‘operationability’ within the Forces. As the Indian Air Force has pointed out, the nature of its operations are so fluid that all of India is one theatre and proposed a Joint Operations Command (JOCOM). On similar lines, during the annual Navy Week press conference at Kota House in New Delhi, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said: “You are right, there are differences.”

It will be on the watch list as the outcome of Kargil War has given enough indication of such a ‘Joint Command’.

Pakistan Tries To Block Indian Cargo Flights To Afghanistan

India has taken up the matter with Islamabad, with the Ministry of External Affairs sending a note verbale to Pakistan

In what seems to be a blatant violation of civil aviation norms, Pakistan has been stopping Indian flights to Afghanistan. In recent incidents, Pakistan's civil aviation authority denied passage to SpiceJet cargo flights to Afghanistan thrice in last week of December and then on January 11 and 14.

India has taken up the matter with Islamabad, with the Ministry of External Affairs sending a note verbale to Pakistan.

The development comes even as New Delhi has been trying to connect landlocked Afghanistan with India and rest of the world. Notably, Pakistan has been blocking the land route for trade between India and Afghanistan.

The India-Afghanistan air corridor, launched in 2017, connects Afghanistan with Delhi and Mumbai. The Chabahar port being built in Iran with India's help also provides Afghanistan goods gateway to the world.

Speaking at the first ever India Central Asia Afghanistan Dialogue in Samarkand, Uzbekistan on January 13, Union External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said, "Joint efforts of India, Iran and Afghanistan have led to the development of the Chabahar Port in Iran as a viable and operational trade route to connect to Afghanistan and potentially to Central Asia. Chabahar provides a shining example of what strong partnership can achieve to overcome any obstacles."

India has already sent a very substantial quantity of wheat to Afghanistan using the Chabahar port.

India took over the operations of a part of Shahid Beheshti Port, Chabahar in Iran last month. On December 24, 2018, India, Iran and Afghanistan jointly inaugurated the office of the Indian SPV - India Ports Global Chabahar Free Zone (IPGCFZ), at Chabahar. The physical take-over of the terminal area, cargo handling equipment and office building was completed by December 29, 2018.

Commercial operations began at IPGCFZ with the arrival of a vessel. A Cyprus registered bulk carrier had arrived at Chabahar with 72458 MT of corn cargo. The vessel MV MACHERAS berthed at the terminal at 0130 hrs on December 30, 2018.

Central Asia countries have also lauded Chabahar. Uzbek ambassador to India Farhod Arziev has lauded the project saying a railway project in Afghanistan can connect Uzbekistan with Chabahar.

Iran is holding Chabahar Day International Conference on February 26 at the Chabahar port to give an overview of the port to the world. India is also planning to develop Chabahar-Zahedan railway link that will link Zaranj-Delaram road built by India in Afghanistan and bring Iran and Afghanistan closer.

India plays a significant role as a development partner with its assistance exceeding $3 billion. New Delhi is Afghanistan's largest donor in the region.

Arrested ISIS Suspects Planned To Use Chemicals To Inflict 'Mass Casualty', ATS Probes If Kumbh Mela Was A Target

The authorities are investigating if the suspects aimed to target the huge gathering at ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj

The Maharashtra Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) on Wednesday arrested nine people for suspected links with banned terror outfit ISIS. According to the ATS, the nine suspects had formed a group called ‘Ummat-e-Mohammadiya’ and had allegedly been plotting to mix some poisonous substance with food or water at some bug event to cause mass casualty.

The authorities are investigating if the suspects aimed to target the huge gathering at ongoing Kumbh Mela in Uttar Pradesh’s Prayagraj. The ATS has shared its findings in this regard with authorities and agencies associated with the Kumbh Mela 2019.

A chemical bottle labelled as Hydrogen Peroxide was seized from their possession and later sent for chemical analysis to find out the content of the mixture. The ATS has seized some white liquid chemical, white powder, six knives, six pen drives, more than 24 mobile phones, more than six laptops, more than six WiFi routers, hard drives, modems, dongles and RAMs.

One of the arrested suspects has been identified as Mazhar Malbari, son of underworld fugitive Rashid Malbari, who is a sharp shooter of Dawood Ibrahim’s D-Company. Another suspect was reportedly in touch with ISIS handlers outside the country.

An ATS official had earlier on Wednesday said that the squad had kept a watch on the suspects for several weeks and nabbed them just when they were likely to “swing into action”. The ATS action began on the basis of specific inputs.

The arrests followed searches in Amrut Nagar, Kausa, Moti Baug and Almas Colony areas in Thane's Mumbra township and in Aurangabad's Kaisar Colony, Rahat Colony and Damdi Mahal areas on Monday late night and Tuesday early morning.

A case has been registered under Indian Penal Code's Section 120 (B) (criminal conspiracy) and relevant provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Bombay Police Act.

PSLV-C44 To Launch Military Surveillance Satellite For DRDO Today At 11.37 PM

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) will launch the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle-C44 (PSLV-C44) carrying Kalamsat payload and Microsat-R satellite into space on Thursday from Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh.

The countdown for the launch of PSLV-C44 started on Wednesday at 7.37 pm at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota. The launch is scheduled for Thursday at 11.37 pm.

PSLV has been defined as the workhorse of the ISRO.

PSLV is a four-stage launch vehicle with alternating solid and liquid stages.

"The PSLV with 2 strap-on configuration has been identified for this mission and the configuration is designated as PSLV-DL. PSLV-C44 is the first mission of PSLV-DL and is a new variant of PSLV," ISRO had said.

It will be launched from First Launch Pad (FLP) at Satish Dhawan Space Centre (SHAR), Sriharikota.

"Kalamsat, a student payload will be the first to use PS4 as an orbital platform. PSLV-C44 will also carry Microsat-R, an imaging satellite," the agency said.

In PSLV-C44, the fourth stage (PS4) of the vehicle would be moved to a higher circular orbit so as to establish an orbital platform for carrying out experiments.

Kalamsat will be the first to use PS4 as an orbital platform, ISRO said.

Indian Army To Host 12 African Nations For 10-Day Field Exercise To Counter China

The exercise is expected to see the participation of 12 African nations, including Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda

In view of the increasing influence of China on African nations, the Indian Army is set to launch a first-of-its-kind Indo-African Field Exercise. The exercise is expected to see the participation of 12 African nations, including Egypt, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. The event will be organised from March 18 to March 27 in Maharashtra’s Pune.

Though India has always maintained good relations with African nations, there has been considerable increase in Chinese involvement in the region in the past decade. The same became even more noticeable in 2018 when the China built a Naval base in Djibouti, a country in East Africa.

It is evident that China has been trying to increase its influence beyond the Indian Ocean and the construction of country’s Naval base in Djibouti is a vital juncture of its Naval strategy.

China has also emerged as the biggest arms exporters for African nations, who have remained indulged in wars. As per a study, there had been an increase of 55 per cent in the arms exported from China to African nations between 2013 and 2017. During this span, China even surged ahead of the US and Russia in the race.

The rapid increase in Chinese influence in the region is not just about military ambitions but is also an attempt to achieve major economic goals.

Africa is home to 30 per cent of the total hydrocarbon in the world and is immensely rich with regard to natural minerals and resources. But due to lack of infrastructure and frequent war-like situations, the region has failed to develop in sync with its resources. China is eyeing to capitalise on this gap.

As of now, Chinese companies are involved in 2500 construction projects across 51 African nations, amounting to as much as USD 94 billion. China has also tried to form a debt trap in the region, with the nations in Africa currently owing India’s neighbour USD 1.5 billion.

On the lines of Pakistan and Sri Lanka, China is trying to dominate African nations and use them to its strategic advantage.

Sea Vigil: All About Indian Navy's Largest Ever Coastal Defence Exercise

Exercise Sea Vigil aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since '26/11'

NEW DELHI: Ten years after '26/11' terror attacks in Mumbai, the Navy on Tuesday commenced its largest coastal defence exercise off the country's coast.

Code named 'Exercise Sea Vigil', a first of its kind, is being undertaken along the entire 7516.6 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and is involving all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities. 

Exercise Sea Vigil aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since '26/11', according to a statement issued by the government's publicity wing - PIB. 

Multi-agency teams have been deployed in all coastal districts to undertake security audit of various vulnerable locations such as fish landing centres, as well as major, minor and intermediate ports, lighthouses, coastal police stations, control rooms and operations centres, a defence statement said on Monday.

The exercise aims to test the country's preparedness to thwart any attempt by anti-national elements to carry out an attack on its territory or against its citizens by infiltrating through the sea route, the statement said.

The exercise will provide an opportunity to stakeholders to assess the capability and preparedness of individual organisations, identify deficiencies if any and address them on priority, it said.

The exercise is being conducted under the aegis of Commander-in-Chief, Coastal Defence, Southern Naval Command, Kochi and will be monitored closely from the Joint Operations Centre, Kochi.

Exercise Sea Vigil: Salient Features

Ten years after "26/11" the Indian Navy will coordinate the largest coastal defence exercise off the Indian coast on 22-23 Jan 19, Exercise SEA VIGIL.

The exercise, a first of its kind, is being undertaken along the entire 7516.6 km coastline and Exclusive Economic Zone of India and involves all the 13 coastal States and Union Territories along with all maritime stakeholders, including the fishing and coastal communities.

The scale of the exercise is unprecedented in terms of the geographical extent, the number of stakeholders involved, the number of units deployed, and in terms of the objectives to be met.

The exercise is a build-up towards the major theatre level tri-service exercise TROPEX [Theatre-level Readiness Operational Exercise] which Indian Navy conducts every two years.

The conduct of the exercise SEA VIGIL has been facilitated by the Ministries of Defence, Home Affairs, Shipping, Petroleum and Natural Gas, Fisheries, Customs, State Governments and other agencies of Centre/ State.

Post '26/11', operational responsibilities for coastal security were entrusted to the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. In the discharge of these very responsibilities that Exercise 'SEA VIGIL' has been planned by the Indian Navy.

Exercise SEA VIGIL aims to comprehensively and holistically validate the efficacy of the measures taken since '26/11'. The exercise will entail both seaward and shore-based monitoring.

The exercise will in addition to covering the entire coastline, will also go deeper into the hinterland.

Evaluation of critical areas and processes, including inter-agency coordination, information sharing and technical surveillance will be undertaken. Multi-agency audit and identification of gaps, shortfalls and incorporation of lessons learnt into SOPs are also the desired outcomes.

Exercise SEA VIGIL to provide a realistic assessment of our strengths and weakness and this will certainly help further strengthening of maritime security and in turn national security.

Forensics Lab Validates Videos of 2016 JNU Sedition Case; Zee News Stance Vindicated

Delhi Police had filed a 1200-page charge sheet citing 13 videos, including four clips aired on exclusively Zee News

NEW DELHI: The Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) on Wednesday certified the four crucial Zee News videos, which allegedly incriminate former Jawaharlal Nehru University Students' Union (JNUSU) president Kanhaiya Kumar and 46 other in the 2016 JNU sedition case, as being authentic.

On January 14, 2019, Delhi Police had filed a 1200-page charge sheet naming Kumar, Umar Khalid, Anirban Bhattacharya and several others for allegedly shouting anti-India slogans during an event organised on the JNU campus on February 9, 2016, to commemorate the hanging of Parliament-attack mastermind Afzal Guru.

The charge sheet had cited 13 videos as evidence. Out of the 13, four clips were aired on Zee News exclusively. Unlike the other grainy cellphone videos, these four clips have clear audio-visual footage.

Others named in the charge sheet are Aquib Hussain, Mujeeb Hussain, Muneeb Hussain, Umar Gul, Rayeea Rassol, Bashir Bhat and Basharat. Nearly 36 others, including Communist Party of India (CPI) leader D Raja's daughter Aprajita, Shehla Rashid (then vice-president of the JNUSU), Rama Naga, Ashutosh Kumar and Banojyotsna Lahiri have been named in column 12 of the charge sheet due to insufficient evidence against them, police sources said.

Kanhaiya Kumar was accused of inciting the gathering and shouting anti-India slogans during his address.

Last week, the Patiala House Court had rapped Delhi Police for filing the charge sheet without getting the requisite sanction. “You don't have approval from the legal department, why did you file charge sheet without approval?" the court had questioned.

Delhi Police later told the court that they will procure required sanctions within the next 10 days. 

Meanwhile, the Delhi government is seeking legal advice with regard to granting sanction for prosecution in the JNU sedition case, government sources said on Tuesday.

Sources added there are rules laid down by the court for sanction of prosecution and they will be followed. "The rules allow three months time to the government for granting sanction. Delhi Police took three years to file the charge sheet. The government must be allowed due diligence and legal advice at its disposal before taking a decision," a source said.

The next hearing in the matter is on February 6.

Light, Medium & Heavy: Is ISRO Working On Three Reusable Rocket Designs At Once?

Comparison of ISRO's ADMIRE & SpaceX's Falcon-9 stages - Credit: TOI

ISRO's recent announcements suggest it wants to secure a competitive advantage as quickly as possible in all segments of the launch services market: light, medium and heavy

by Vasudevan Mukunth

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) is working on at least three different designs of reusable launch vehicles at the same time.

Together with its endeavours to increase the number of objectives per mission and deploy purpose-built rockets, it seems like ISRO wants to secure a competitive advantage as quickly as possible in all segments of the launch services market: light, medium and heavy.

Last week, ISRO chairman K. Sivan told Times of India that they will be soon testing a prototype two-stage rocket in which both stages will be recoverable after launch. Sivan’s specifications suggest that this project is in addition to, and not in relation to, two others aimed at building rockets with reusable parts.

The first project that ISRO began testing is simply called the Reusable Launch Vehicle (RLV). It is modelled along NASA’s Space Shuttle. However, differences include the fact that it will be powered by five semi-cryogenic engines during ascent and a scramjet engine during descent. When completed by around 2030, it will be able to lift over 10,000 kg to the low-Earth orbit.

ISRO doesn’t yet have a testable prototype in the second project yet. In fact, its details emerged only a month or so ago. Called ADMIRE, it envisions a small two-stage rocket the size of an L40 booster used on the GSLV Mk II. Its payload capability is not known.

But it is known that ADMIRE’s first stage will be recoverable after launch in similar fashion to the first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket. The second stage will be lost after delivering the payload, just like with the Polar (PSLV) and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicles (GSLV).

The third project, according to Sivan, involves a two-stage rocket. The first stage will be like ADMIRE’s first-stage. The second will resemble a smaller version of the RLV shuttle.

Reusable launch vehicles reduce cost by allowing space agencies to shave off the expense of the recovered stage for every subsequent launch. The only other expenses are capital costs for the infrastructure and a recurring refurbishment cost (which hasn’t been finalised yet).

Though the NASA Space Shuttle typified this paradigm for many decades, it was the Falcon 9 rocket that really popularised it. To SpaceX’s credit, it showed that reusable rockets didn’t have to be as large as the Space Shuttle and didn’t require infrastructure at that scale either. Since then, many space agencies – public and private – have been pursuing their own reusable launcher programmes.

However, why ISRO is pursuing three of them, if not more, at once is not clear. The payload capacities of the ADMIRE and the third project could help understand the organisation’s eventual plans better.

The RLV will be a heavy-lift vehicle, capable of lifting 10,000-20,000 kg to the low-Earth orbit. The second and third projects could be aimed at lower payload capabilities. This would explain their smaller sizes and they would also fit within ISRO’s broader programme of cashing in on the growing small satellites launch market.

The shuttle-like upper-stage of the third project has technically been tested. In May 2016, ISRO flew a scaled-down prototype of the RLV shuttle in a technology demonstration mission. The eventual upper stage is expected to have similar dimensions as the prototype.

However, there are some potential differences between the RLV shuttle and the third project shuttle. For example, the RLV shuttle is larger and will be powered by a scramjet engine during its descent. On the other hand, the third-project shuttle will – to use Sivan’s words – “glide back to Earth and land on an airstrip”.

Since such gliding will require a source of power, it is plausible that ISRO will tack on a scramjet engine to the shuttle stage as well. However, the vehicle’s potential use in lighter missions also suggests ISRO will want to keep the vehicle as light as possible.

ISRO successfully tested its scramjet engine in August 2016, atop an Advanced Technology Vehicle (ATV), essentially a modified version of the RH560 Rohini sounding rocket. An official press release had said that the time that the ATV and scramjet engine together weighed 3,277 kg. Since the RH560 weighs 1,300 kg, the scramjet weighs around 1,900 kg.

In sum, if the third project uses the ADMIRE vehicle’s first stage, then it would work the following way.

First, the two-stage rocket will take off. Once the first stage is exhausted, it will separate from the second stage, glide through the air until it is suitably over the spot it has to land on (in the Bay of Bengal), and descend using retrograde thrusters.

By this time, the second, shuttle-like stage will have reached a suitable altitude at which to deploy the payload. Once that is done, the shuttle will glide back down, similar to the first stage, and descend on an airstrip.

Apart from these tests, ISRO has also been working on accomplishing more per mission itself. During the PSLV-C34 and PSLV-C35 missions, the organisation showed off the rocket’s ability to launch satellites into multiple orbits at different altitudes.

The PSLV-C44 mission will do something similar. On January 24, it will lift off with two satellites: the Microsat-R, an imaging satellite built by the Defence Research and Development Organisation, and a student-built satellite called Kalamsat.

After launching Microsat-R, the rocket’s fourth and uppermost stage will climb into a higher, more circular orbit. There, Kalamsat will switch on and use the orbiting stage as a platform to perform some experiments in space.

Finally, later this year, ISRO will conduct the first test flight of its planned Small Satellite Launch Vehicle. It will be a three-stage rocket partly derived from the PSLV, and capable of carrying 300 kg to a Sun-synchronous orbit and 500 kg to the low-Earth orbit.

Its USP is that it can prepared for launch within 72 hours, rendering it highly available – in much the same way ISRO itself wants to be.

Jammu And Kashmir: 3 Let Terrorists Killed In Encounter With Security Forces In Baramulla

Two or three terrorists were reported to be trapped in the area, as reported by news agency ANI

Jammu and Kashmir: 3 LeT terrorists killed in encounter with security forces in Baramulla. At least three terrorists were killed in an encounter with security forces on Wednesday in Binner area of Baramulla district in Jammu and Kashmir.

Two or three terrorists were reported to be trapped in the area, as reported by news agency ANI.

Security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in the area following information about the presence of terrorists, news agency PTI reported quoting a police official.

He said the search operation turned into a gunbattle after terrorists opened fire on the security forces.

According to the Jammu and Kashmir Police, the terrorists have been identified as -- Suhaib Farooq Akhoon, Mohsin Mushtaq Bhat and Nasir Ahmad Darzi.

They were affiliated to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and were wanted in terror crimes including an attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities.

A huge quantity of arms and ammunition, including three AK-47 rifles, have been recovered from the site of the encounter. All the materials have been taken in case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror cases, added the police.

"We got the info that a few terrorists were in hiding in Baramulla. Security forces were fired at during a search operation; 3 terrorists were killed in retaliatory firing. We've recovered arms and ammunition in huge quantity," said DIG North Kashmir.

"The terrorists have been identified as Suhaib Farooq Akhoon, Mohsin Mushtaq Bhat and Nasir Ahmad Darzi. All 3 were affiliated to Lashkar-e-Taiba and were wanted in terror crimes including an attack on security establishments & civilian atrocities," said the state police.

"Arms & ammunition including 3 AK 47 rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken in case records for further investigation and probe their complicity in other terror cases," added the police.

Colonel Ranveer Singh Jamwal Becomes First Army Officer To Scale 6 Peaks of 6000 Metre In 10 Days

Ojos del salado is also the highest volcanic mountain in the world. Colonel Ranveer Singh Jamwal becomes first Army officer to scale 6 peaks of 6000 metre in 10 days

In a first for the Indian Army, an officer made a landmark achievement after he scaled six mountain peaks of at least 6,000 metre (20,000 feet) in 10 days. 

The feat was achieved by Colonel Ranveer Singh Jamwal who scaled mountain peaks-- Copiapo of 6,050 metre, San Francisco of 6,016 metre, Incahuasi of 6,627 metre, Ermitanio 6,187 metre, Ojos del Salado of 6,893 metre, and Tres cruces south of 6,742 metre.

Ojos del salado is also the highest volcanic mountain in the world.

The Indian Army took to its Twitter account posting a video of Jamwal on the summit of the mountains.

On January 10, he took to Twitter announcing that he had reached the summit of the highest mountain of Antarctica, Mount Vinson on January 4. "Feeling honoured to climb the highest mountains of all the seven continents," he tweeted.

Earlier on December 24, 2018, he had tweeted, "Ready to climb the last leg of the 7 continental summits... Vinson Massif. Prayers and best wishes from all is what I need, to carry the pride of Army & the nation to Antarctica !!"

Col Jamwal has already climbed Mt Everest, Mt Kilimanjaro (highest mountain of Africa), Mt Carstensz Pyramid (Australia), Mt Elbrus (Europe), Mt Aconcagua (South Africa) and Mt Denali (North America).

He has the distinction of climbing Mount Everest three times. He has done more than 30 expeditions across six continents. He is the only person in India to lead back to back three Everest Expeditions and total 51 climbers have climbed Everest under his dynamic leadership.

In 2015, Col Jamwal and his team had rescued a team of climbers at Everest saving more than 60 lives.

"Mountaineering is my passion. I have lost one finger once I was doing one Himalayan Summit. I am very thankful to my family members who always stood with me," said Col Jamwal.

Col Jamwal is the proud recipient of Highest Adventure Award of India Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award. He was awarded along with Virat Kohli with many other prominent personalities in 2013.

He has got 7 Awards from Army including the prestigious Vishisht Seva Medal twice. He was declared the best mountaineer of India by Indian mountaineering foundation in 2017.

China's J-20 Stealth Fighter Has No Cannon — And It Shows The Jet Can't Dogfight With The US

China's J-20 stealth fighter lacks a gun, something which the US's stealth fighters made a point to include

Dropping the gun from the J-20 likely means its not useful as a dog-fighter, and that many older US jets could defeat it in head-on close range fights.

But the lack of gun also indicates a new focus for the J-20 which may be more modern and relevant to real aerial combat than even the US's F-22 and F-35.

China's J-20 stealth fighter jet represents a massive milestone for Beijing's armed forces and the first stealth aircraft ever fielded outside the US, but the impressive effort still falls noticeably short in some areas.

The J-20 doesn't have a cannon, and represents the only entry into the world of fifth-generation fighters that skips the gun, which has seen 100 years of aerial combat.

Enemy aircraft can't jam a fighter jet's gun. Flares and chaff will never fool a gun, which needs no radar. Bullets rip out of the gun already above the speed of sound and need not wait for rocket boosters to kick in.

While the F-22, the US's fifth-generation stealth superiority fighter can hold just eight missiles, its 20mm rotary cannon holds 480 rounds it can expend in about five seconds of non-stop firing.

The US's other fifth-generation stealth jet, the F-35, has already used its cannon in combat missions in Afghanistan.

But not every jet needs a gun, and not every jet needs to dogfight.

The J-20 Doesn't Even Consider Dogfights

The J-20's lack of a gun shows that the "Chinese recognise that being in a dogfight is not a mission that they're building for," retired US Marine Corps Lt. Col. David Berke, a former F-22 pilot and F-35B squadron commander, told Business Insider.

"They probably want to avoid a dogfight at all costs," he continued.

Business Insider previously spoke to air combat experts who said that the J-20 likely couldn't compete with even older US jets like the F-15 in head-on dogfights, but that the J-20 likely didn't need to.

The Chinese jet, with powerful sensors, long-range missiles, and a stealth design, poses a serious threat to US Air Force refuelling, early warning, and other support planes. Tactically, beating back these logistical planes with J-20s could allow China to keep the US operating at an arms length in a conflict.

But increasingly, it looks like the J-20 would lose handily to US fighter jets in outright combat, and that may be the point.

According to Berke, guns only work to around 800 feet to score aerial kills.

"I'd rather have a missile that's good to 800 feet that goes out to 20 miles than a gun that goes to 800 feet and closer but nothing else. ... Once you start getting outside of 1,000 feet, you can start using missiles," said Berke.

Because the J-20 wasn't meant as a close-in brawler, the Chinese ditched it. This will save room and weight on board the jet to allow for other technologies.

Also, the mission of the gun in air-to-air combat may be disappearing.

The US started building the F-22 in the 1990s with a hangover from combat losses to air-to-air guns in Vietnam after fielding jets without guns and relying solely on missiles. The F-35 includes a gun because it has a broad set of missions which include close air support and air-to-ground fires.

"In air-to-air, the cannon serves one very specific and limited purpose only useful in a very predictable phase of flight, which is a dogfight," said Berke.

"The Chinese probably recognise that [dogfights are] not where they want the airframe to be and that's not the investment they want to make," he continued.

"Utilising a gun against a highly manoeuvrable platform is an incredibly challenging task," Berke said. In World War II, propeller-driven planes frequently engaged in turning fights where they attempted to get behind each other and let the guns rip and bombers flew with turret gunners covering the whole compass.

But today's F-22s, J-20s, Su-35s, and other highly manoeuvrable jets give the guns an "extremely limited use" in combat, according to Berke.

Berke pointed out that the US likely has not scored an air-to-air guns kill in decades.