Sunday, July 23, 2017

Army To Raise Five Regiments of Advanced Medium Range Surface To Air Missiles

Israel to partner DRDO for developing missile defence system for India

A MOU has been signed between the army and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for one regiment

by Shaurya Karanbir Gurung

NEW DELHI: In a major upgrade to its defences, the Indian Army has signed a MoU with the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to raise one regiment of the advanced Medium Range Surface to Air Missiles (MRSAM). The army plans to have a total of five regiments of this air defence system, which will be deployed opposite to China and Pakistan.

The MRSAM marks a paradigm shift in the capabilities of the Indian Army. The system can shoot down enemy ballistic missiles, aircraft, helicopters, drones, surveillance aircraft and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) aircraft. Meant for the Army Air Defence, the MRSAM is an advanced, all weather, mobile, land-based air defence system.

It is capable of engaging multiple aerial targets at ranges of more than 50 km. Each MRSAM system comprises a command-and-control system, a tracking radar, missiles, and mobile launchers.

Each regiment consists of four launchers with three missiles each. So five regiments will have 60 missiles.

A MOU has been signed between the army and the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for one regiment.

"The MOU marks the beginning of the development of the MRSAM in the configuration required by the army," said a defence ministry official, adding that the entire project is worth Rs 17,000 cr.

Earlier this year, the Cabinet Committee on Security headed by PM Narendra Modi approved a proposal for procuring the MRSAM system for the army. According to the proposal, the army will induct five regiments of the system.

In 2 Years, Armed Forces Will Be Well Stocked For Short Wars

An Army soldier fires a "Konkurs-M" Anti Tank Guided Missile during a military exercise

The latest CAG report says “no significant improvement” has taken place to plug the critical deficiencies. The audit watchdog held the stocks of 121 (80%) of the 152 types of ammunition were below the authorisation level

by Rajat Pandit

NEW DELHI: It will take the 15-lakh strong Indian armed forces another couple of years to become "fully fighting fit" with "optimal" stockpiles of ammunition, spares and reserves for "short and intense wars" under the Rs 23,700 crore worth of deals inked over the last 10 months, say sources.

But this does not mean the Army, Navy and IAF cannot effectively take on any adversary, if the need arises, in the interim period in as gung-ho a manner as ever. The armed forces continue to maintain "high operational readiness" all along the 778-km Line of Control with Pakistan amid fierce cross-border shelling duels as well as the 4,057-km Line of Actual Control with China, where rival troops remain locked in a tense but non aggressive face-off near the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet tri-junction.

The crippling shortages in ammunition stockpiles or the war wastage reserves (WWR) came to the fore once again on Friday, with the latest CAG report tabled in Parliament holding "no significant improvement" had taken place to plug the critical deficiencies in availability and quality of ammunition supplied by the Ordnance Factory Board since March 2013.

Conducting a follow-up audit to its May 2015 report on the dismal state of "ammunition management in the Army", the audit watchdog held the stocks of 121 (80%) of the 152 types of ammunition were below the authorisation level required for 40 days of "intensive fighting" as per WWR norms.

"Further, availability of 83 (55%) types of ammunition was below the MARL (minimum acceptable risk level of ammunition stocks for 20 days) and 61 (40%) types were at a critical level (less than 10 days). Availability of high-calibre ammunition for tanks and artillery are in a more alarming state. Moreover, in the absence of fuses, 83% of the high-calibre ammunition currently held by Army is not in a state to be used operationally," it added.

But the CAG report does not take into account the flurry of contracts for ammunition and spares inked by Army (19 deals worth Rs 12,000 crore), IAF (43 deals for over Rs 9,200 crore) and Navy (37 deals for over Rs 2,500 core) under emergency revenue financial powers granted to them after the terror attack at Uri in September last year.

These deliveries from Russia, Israel and others to ensure stockpiles for at least 10 days of "intensive" fighting, however, will take time. The Army, for instance, will get the bulk of its Smerch rockets, Konkurs anti-tank guided missiles, 12 mm APFSDS (armour-piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot) ammunition for its T-90S and T-72 tanks and the like by March 2019, with the rest coming by early-2020.

Deliveries to plug critical shortages in submarines, fighters, howitzers and helicopters will also take some time. The IAF, for instance, will get 36 Rafale fighters, armed with a wide array of missile and laser-guided munitions, in the 2019-2022 time frame under the Rs 59,000 crore deal inked with France last September.

Design Bureau of Army Visits Amity To Foster Close R&D Linkages

DRDO/CVRDE's Arjun Main Battle Tank

The Indian Army is striving to contribute to the Centre's "Make in India" mission by connecting with academia and industry directly

As a significant step in this direction, a delegation from Army led by Maj. Gen. A K Channan, Additional Director General (Perspective Plan -- PP) at the Army Headquarters visited Amity University here along with seven army Officers to foster close research and development linkages for meeting certain technological requirements of the army.

The visit was a follow up of technical presentation given by Dr. W Selvamurthy- President, Amity Science Technology and Innovation Foundation and Dr. M S Prasad- Director, Amity Institute of Space Science and Technology at the Army Design Bureau.

The army delegation also included Brigadier Vikram - DDG, PP, Army Design Bureau, Col.Dalbir Rathi, Col. Jitender Singh, Col. Sanjeev Kohili, Col. Sinha- Col. Academia, ADB and Col. I S Bhinder who were presented and demonstrated various prototypes, technologies, innovative products developed by researchers and scientists of Amity University.

The exhibits included "Nano silver based Water Purifier", "LPG Sensor for detecting Gas leakage", "Fly Ash based rechargeable Battery", "Hot Water storage tank for cold location using Solar energy", "Biodegradable Plastics for Packaging", "Cooking Oil Testing kit for Army kitchen and procurement of edible oil", "Silver Nano Hydrogel for wound healing", "Energy dense Nutrition products for soldiers in High altitude/ LIC Operations" and others.

Sharing his views and applauding the technological advancements and innovative strength of Amity, Maj. Gen. A K Channan stressed that in every technology demonstrated by Amity scientists and researchers, there is a certain very useful application for the Armed Forces and expressed that Army would be keen to connect with Amity which is a renowned University for fruitful synergy in defence technology.

He appreciated the two Credit program "Orientation to Defence Technologies" started by Amity a week ago to orient Amity students who may join Armed Forces at "Technical Graduate Entry Scheme" or "University Entry Scheme".

He asserted that the program may also help providing Engineers and Technologists who are already oriented to military technologies, for the Armed Forces, Defence Industry, PSUs and DRDO.

He suggested Amity University to start a course on "Integrated Policy, Technology and Decision making in Defence" to make a considered technical policy decision by Armed Forces under the aegis of Amity Institute of Strategic Studies.

Dr. W Selvamurthy- President, Amity Science Technology and Innovation Foundation stated that Amity has a fortune of having a large number of senior level retired service officers, DRDO scientists and brilliant research scholars and scientists across the country. It is very rare to have such an integrated Innovation strength to contribute to the Armed Forces in the area of building revolutionary technologies, strategic Planning and Human Resource Development.

He asserted that Dr. Ashok K Chauhan- Founder President, Amity Group is very keen to augment Amity"s contribution to Defence technologies, under "Make in India" Policy of Indian Government. He assured that Amity will make concerted efforts to place its strength and innovation to the benefit of Armed Forces.

Army delegation was quite impressed with the technological prowess of Amity University which is very relevant to Army and expressed their desire to harness Amity"s potential to develop military systems and equipment in partnership with Industry.

As a follow up, it was decided to have a specific interactive meeting between Army Design Bureau and Amity University.

Amity University is already contributing to the Armed Forces in a significant way by conducting several training and educational programs such as DG Resettlement Course, Training Service Officers in Academic Management, preparing them to take positions in academic Institutions.

At the Amity Military Academy, all students of Amity are exposed to short military training which give them a glimpse of the rigors and adventures of military life and Amity SSB Academy which prepares the youth for entering the defence services.

‘ThyssenKrupp Marine Ready For Complete Tech Transfer’

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems’ Air-Independent Propulsion system Type 214 submarine

by Amrita Nair-Ghaswalla

India MD says the German conglomerate’s AIP system for submarines is used by nine navies

German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems is banking on its vast experience in design and construction of submarines and the fact that it has delivered subs for coastal and blue water deployment to the navies of 19 countries, to help deliver India’s next-generation submarines, the P-75(I). The Indian Navy had recently flagged off the next stage of P-75(I) by issuing Request For Information (RFI) to foreign Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs).

Even as the Strategic Partnership policy is set to unlock submarine building in the country, ThyssenKrupp is in talks with private Indian shipyards for tie-ups, and is keen to be the foreign OEM of choice for the P75(I) programme. The German submarine specialist had recently landed a contract to modernise two Indian Navy type 209/1500 submarines.

Lauding the massive technological capability available at Indian shipyards, Gurnad Sodhi, Managing Director, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems India, spoke to BusinessLine about how the P-75(I) contract would be an important milestone for the company, and how his team is looking forward to integrate any weapon system the Indian Navy may opt for. Edited excerpts:

Six advanced submarines are to be built under P-75(I). Why is air-independent propulsion (AIP) an enabling factor?

A crucial factor in non-nuclear submarines is the AIP system. Ever since there have been submarines, the goal has been to extend their diving time. AIP helps make this possible, significantly increasing the underwater range and reducing the risk of discovery. Our AIP technology will help boost combat operation capability of India’s stealth vehicles.

The Indian Navy has announced it would not include its indigenous AIP system in the Scorpene submarines. How can you compete with other foreign OEMs with the AIP technology?

Most OEMs do not have a proven technology.

The German AIP is the only proven AIP in the world at present, and is actively being used by many navies worldwide where our boats are operating.

We have already committed that ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems will be happy to provide complete transfer of technology (ToT) to the Navy for the AIP system for P75(I).

To enable ToT, do you have any likely Indian partners in the fray?

We have already built two Type 209 submarines in collaboration with Mazagon Dock Limited (MDL) in the early nineties, and have a good relation with them. The Indian government had last month finalised and elaborated the Strategic Partner of the DPP (Defence Procurement Procedure) 2016.

We have visited and examined most Indian shipyards — private as well as public —like Larsen and Toubro, Reliance Defence, MDL, Hindustan Shipyard, and Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers, and are aware of the immense technological capability available at each yard.

We will be happy to collaborate with any shipyard (public or private) with whom the the Indian government wishes us to build our boats in India under P75(I).

Have you received any indication in this regard?

We have regular interactions with the Indian Navy, and have amply demonstrated our commitments. Both the Navy and the Indian government are aware of this.

Has the company undertaken any AIP-related ToT?

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems’ air-independent propulsion system is successfully running on our 209PN and 209R, 212A, 214 and Dolphin AIP submarines in six navies across the world — the German, Italian, South Korean, Israeli, Portuguese and Hellenic (Greek) Navies.

This technology has been exported, and is presently being used for the manufacture of 3 + 6 Type 214 submarines under construction, with complete ToT in South Korea, in collaboration with Hyundai Heavy Industries.

IDN TAKE: Indian Ordinance Factories Need Urgent Reforms

Ordnance Factories Board 84mm Shoulder-fired Rocket Launcher / Recoilless Gun

by Brigadier Arun Bajpai (Retd)

It was not very long back that Chairman Indian Ordinance Factories Mr Sudipta Ghosh was caught red handed accepting bribe. If Chairman himself is involved in corruption what would be state of affairs in almost a lakh employees under him in 42 Ordinance factories in India.

Problem is that instead of allowing these ordinance factories to work in an environment devoted to the country and the armed forces of India, political interference and Bhai Bhatija Wad has been predominant. Almost all ordinance factories are over staffed. Work culture is such that you will find more workers in the canteens and tea shops then working inside on job. The items produced are of indifferent quality. There is hardly any quality control. So many times soldiers suffer major injuries including martyrdom due to the malfunctioning of the ammunition produced by them. Best example is that in last 70 years they have not been able to produce a sturdy rifle for Indian Army. Now Army is forced to buy rifles for troops from abroad. Why somebody is not made accountable for this utter inefficiency?

OFB 7.62 Trichy Assault Rifle

Can you believe that ordinance factories are producing Shaving kits, mosquito nets, socks, shoes and so many other things which are easily available in open market? Surely Ordinance factories are not meant to produce these items. It was OK when these items were produced during World War days but not now it is 21st century. Today eleven such ordinance factories producing these items can be closed straight away. With Make in India in Defence taking shape in India in a big way effort should be to off load all items which can be easily produced in Make in India in Defence from Ordinance factories. Close those factories that are producing non lethal items. Ordinance Factory Board should be regrouped with representative each from the three services. All projects taken up by Ordinance factories must have armed forces people for quality control checks and synergy.

The employees of Ordinance factories are paid from Defence funds. It is really strange that 60000 Armed forces persons retire every year. To keep Armed forces young they are retired at young age. These people are then forced to search for alternative jobs. Most of them land up as security guards and drivers. Why should these people not be given refresher skill training so that they can enter Ordinance Factory work force? This way the ordinance factory work force will have a highly disciplined and dedicated work force as against the current one which does not hesitate on going on strikes at the drop of a hat .All said and done reform of Ordinance factories is a must and most urgent. Enough time has been already lost and public money wasted. This must stop.

Brig Arun Bajpai (Retd) is a distinguished Defence and Strategic Analyst. Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of IDN. IDN does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same

Army's Baffling Inability To Induct Basic Assault Rifle Points At A Deeper Malaise

On July 15, troopers of the Jammu & Kashmir police, the CRPF and the army's Rashtriya Rifles closed in on three Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists hiding in a cave in the Satoora forest, in Tral, south Kashmir. All three terrorists were killed after a fierce firefight lasting over 11 hours. After the fight, AK-47 toting security personnel entered the cave to recover the terrorist's weapons, three AK-47s and 14 field magazines-bringing to a close yet another encounter. If few noticed the intriguing fact of both sides using the same assault rifle, it was because this has ceased to astonish. The AK-47 is a legendary weapon among soldier and guerrilla alike because of its rugged simplicity and effectiveness it has just nine moving parts. Its continuing use by security forces is also an indictment of the army's failure to equip soldiers with a modern assault rifle kitted with force multipliers like day and night sights (which can be used irrespective of light conditions), 'red dot' sights to pinpoint targets and underbarrel grenade launchers, which can toss explosives twice as far as hand-thrown grenades. (The majority of in-service INSAS and AK-47 rifles lack these.) Army officials also bristle at the glitch-prone INSAS's production quality, the breakability of its plastic magazines and its poor metallurgy.

In June last year, the army began a quest to replace both the AK-47 (issued to soldiers in counter-insurgency areas) and the INSAS rifle (for conventional conflict). It issued a request for information (RFI) for the purchase of 66,000 new rifles firing 7.62 x 51 mm (the diameter and length) ammunition. The actual order, for over 180,000 rifles to re-equip the entire army, is presently the world's largest rifle requirement. This is the service's third attempt to buy a new rifle in nearly a decade. It follows the collapse of two previous acquisition attempts- a 2011 tender for Rs 4848 crore, calling for an assault rifle that could fire both INSAS and AK-47 ammunition, with a barrel swap, was scrapped in 2015. Then, the army pulled the plug on a modified INSAS-1C rifle which the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) were developing last year when it decided to go in for a new calibre of ammunition. A senior army official emphasises why things will be different this time around with the new rifle: "The procurement of the weapon is being given maximum time and attention as it is the most important case at present."

Even if this is the case, it could take a minimum of three years to acquire this new rifle to equip the army's 382 infantry battalions. This is because the multiple levels of bureaucracy and the acquisition system is so complex and ponderously slow. Based on responses from global rifle makers, including the state-owned OFB, which developed a 7.62 x 51 mm prototype in under six months, the army will float requests for proposals and invite bids from vendors. This will be followed by extensive technical evaluation trials conducted by the army's infantry school in Mhow. "We follow the same procedure for everything from a pin to a fighter jet," says a general.

Part of the army's delay in acquiring a rifle has been, quite literally, a dilemma over life and death deciding whether it wants its bullets to kill enemies or wound them. In 1982, the army's general staff qualitative requirements (GSQRs) were for a bullet that would incapacitate enemies rather than kill them, the idea being that a wounded soldier requires more attention and therefore ties down more of the enemy's manpower. The army was looking to replace its bulky Belgian-designed FN-FAL self-loading battle rifles with a lighter assault rifle and bullet. This resulted in the DRDO-designed INSAS.

The plan for the new 7.62 x 51 mm assault rifle is pitiless. The army is pretty explicit about wanting ammunition that allows its soldiers to 'shoot to kill'. The requirements followed an April 2016 army commanders' conference in New Delhi where the army prioritised a heavier calibre owing to its lethality.

"Owing to the dynamic nature of warfare, enhanced transparency in the battlefield, technological advancements and the capabilities of our adversaries, our operational requirements have changed, leading to the revised operational philosophy of 'shoot to kill'," says a senior army official. And so, the army is going back to the 7.62 x 51 mm calibre it used for nearly three decades following the 1962 border war with China. However, a heavier bullet means a heavier weapon. At around four kilos, the new rifles are likely to be about a kilo heavier than the INSAS or the AK-47. Also, a 5.56 mm bullet weighs 17 grams, while a 7.62 round weighs 25 grams meaning that soldiers will carry less ammunition.

Apart from the increased weight and recoil of the new rifle, a DRDO rifle scientist warns that heavier ammunition will also result in louder rifles. "Soldiers will not be able to hear orders in the din of combat," he says.

This is one reason the armies of France, China, Russia and the UK are upgrading their rifles but sticking with 5.56 calibre ammunition. Only the US army is considering using heavier 7.62 rounds. Indian army officials feel that the increase in weight is acceptable keeping in view the enhanced lethality and range.

This month, the world's second largest army acquired its first new item of equipment in over a decade lightweight ballistic helmets. The new helmets will replace the bulkier improvised 'Patkas', a cloth-covered armoured steel plate worn around the forehead. The army will also acquire over 50,000 bulletproof jackets, after the completion of ballistic trials in September. Both items were procured by former defence minister Manohar Parrikar as emergency purchases in 2014.

The army's infantry crisis has its origins in a deeper failure- the splintering of an ambitious project called F-INSAS, begun in August 2005, which aimed to field a future combat soldier. The 'future soldier as a system' program covered all aspects of lethality, sustainability, survivability and situational awareness. It called for equipping all 380 infantry battalions with new assault rifles, lightweight helmets, bulletproof jackets and radio sets. A body worn computer would also indicate soldiers' positions on the battlefield, the location of their comrades and the enemy. "It was a good thought but it is seemingly impossible to do a procurement as complex as this. Our systems are what they are today the whole thing is stuck in multiple webs," says a general. With the program as a whole being a non-starter, the army split it up into multiple acquisition programs in July 2014. The acquisition processes for new carbines, sniper rifles and submachine guns are now individual programs.

All are at either the GSQR or RFP stage, it will take several years for them to materialise. The project to increase the situational awareness of the soldier, meanwhile, has been merged into an even larger project for a battlefield management system, which is at the detailed project report stage, and again, several years from conclusion. Clearly, the Indian army has much more to worry about than just acquiring a reliable rifle.

After CAG Report, Sources Say Critical Ammo To Start Arriving In Weeks

An Indian Army soldier manning the volatile border along the Line of Control

Critical ammo for tanks, artillery guns to start coming in from August. Army woefully short on ammo, no remarkable change in last few years: CAG. State-run Ordnance Factory Board supplies 90% of Army's ammo requirement

A day after the country's top auditor told parliament that the Army is significantly short on ammunition, sources have confirmed to NDTV that supplies of critical ammo for tanks and artillery guns will start flowing in from early next month. The Army by the end of next year will likely come close to meeting its requirement for 40 days of war wastage reserves of ammunition - the ideal stockpile the Army needs to fight 40 days of an intensive war - sources have said.

The world's second-largest standing army is woefully short on ammunition and there hasn't been a remarkable change in the last few years, the Comptroller and Auditor General told parliament on Friday. The shortage dents the Army's ability to sustain a war for a long period, the report said.

Reacting to the report, sources told NDTV that several types of ammunition and fuses which are in short supply are presently at the pre-dispatch inspection stage before they are exported to India by foreign suppliers.

Sources also said that the report does not account for 12,000 crores of orders that have been placed last year after the Uri terror attack on an Army base in Kashmir. The report also does not consider first and second line ammunition that is already deployed on the frontline or kept at the formation level to be supplied to troops on the frontline should it be required in the event of a conflict.

Friday's report lamented that despite highlighting "serious concerns" in its earlier report, "no significant improvement took place in the critical deficiency in availability and quality of ammunition... since March 2013".

The state-run Ordnance Factory Board, or OFB, supplies nearly 90 per cent of the Army's requirement of ammunition. Of the remaining instances where the ammunition had to be bought from elsewhere, the audit report said most cases initiated by the Army Headquarters from 2009 were still pending.

The audit findings, however, comes days after the government gave the Army's Vice Chief Lt General Sarath Chand to directly procure 46 types of ammunition to fight short and "intense wars" without going to the defence ministry. Also, the government had last year cleared emergency procurement of weaponry worth 20,000 crores after the Uri terror attack on September 18, last year.

All IAF Aircraft Get Underwater Locator Beacons

All 29 persons on board the ill-fated aircraft have been presumed dead

by Yogesh Kabirdoss

CHENNAI: Saturday will mark the first anniversary of the disappearance of the IAF's AN-32 transport aircraft with 29 people onboard over the Bay of Bengal.

The aircraft, which took off from the IAF Station at Tambaram near Chennai for Port Blair, went off the radar around 9.15am on July 22, 2016.

"All IAF aircraft flying over the sea have been equipped with Underwater Locator Beacons (ULBs)," said retired Air Vice Marshal Manmohan Bahadur.

A massive search and rescue operation involving the Navy, Indian Coast Guard (ICG), IAF and vessels of the National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) was launched to trace AN-32.

This apart, international emergency response teams and satellites from USA were also used for the purpose. Though 290 search and rescue sorties were undertaken, the flight could not be located. Last year, ICG officials involved in the search operations said the emergency locator transmitter (ETL) of the missing aircraft was not emitting any signal.

Utham Kumar Jamadhagni, associate professor and head (in-charge) of department of defence and strategic studies, University of Madras said turbulent weather could have been the probable reason for the flight disappearing during the journey. "There were precedence of civil and defence aircraft going missing and could not be traced," he said, citing the intensified search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that concluded without tracing the vanished aircraft with more than 200 people.

Monsoon Puts Critical Link Between Sino-Indian Border And Rest of Country Under Pressure

Landlocked and tiny hilly state Sikkim is one of the worst sufferers in the country due to landslide

by Debasis Sarkar

SILIGURI: While the Doklam plateau stand-off continues, advent of monsoon has become another concern as mother nature has started showing its tooth and claw in the form of frequent landslides along NH 10. The only hilly link that connects Sikkim adjoining Sino-Indian border to rest of the country. Though Indian defence has got clearance to develop an alternative, the nightmare is not likely to be over for civilians soon.

“Like every monsoon, the frequency of landslide and disruption on this road has gone up this time too,” said an officer at Border Road Organisation, a wing of Indian army that maintains the road. Undoubtedly under prevailing warmed up Sino-Indian cross border environment, concern of Indian army on this is much higher now.

The 110 Km long hilly stretch of 178 km long NH10 climbs up to Sikkim’s capital Gangtok at an altitude of 6,000 ft while running between turbulent river Teesta hundreds of feet down in one side and steep hill on the other side. Beyond Gangtok, a 54 km extension of the road touches Sino-Indian border trade point ice clad Nathu-La at an altitude of 14,000 ft. From there Doka-La is 15 km in south east.

“Civilian and army load on the road is too high,” said BRO officials. And, “That often aggravate the natural disruptions, especially during monsoon,” opined geologists.

Landlocked and tiny hilly state Sikkim is one of the worst sufferers in the country due to landslide. Its direct revenue loss for landslide is estimated as Rs 2 crore per day. Hence, “It is my prime agenda to restructure connectivity of Sikkim and offer an alternate lifeline,” P. K. Chamling, CM of Sikkim said.

As an alternative, a 150 km long road project has already been handed over to BRO following clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forest. This will reduce the time required for need based troop deployment at high altitude Tibet border.

US Ditches China In Its Border Standoff With India In Doklam

If China was hoping for tea and sympathy from the US for its weeks-long territorial standoff with India in Doklam, it was in for a rude surprise

At a meeting in Washington, at the US-China Annual Strategic Economic Dialogue, the US told China in so many words that it was unhappy with its dumping of steel and endeavour to creating adverse trade deficit.

Under the circumstances it is ever more difficult for China to convince the US, which is not a natural ally in any case, that it is the victim in the ongoing border dispute in Sikkim, while India is the aggressor.

According to The Times of India, the US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has said that China's $347 million trade deficit with his country was not the result of organic market forces but rather the absence of "fair, equitable and reciprocal" relationship between the two countries.

However, PTI reports that the Pentagon has encouraged India and China to engage in a direct dialogue free of any "coercive aspects".

"We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions and free of any coercive aspects," Gary Ross, a Defence Department spokesman told PTI.

Over the past week, the US State Department too have been making similar statements, but Pentagon has sought direct dialogue between India and China on reducing tension "free of any coercive aspects".

Notably, in recent past few years, almost all the Chinese neighbours have been accusing Beijing of coercive tactics to settle border disputes. The month-long India-China border standoff in the Sikkim sector is seen as part of same Chinese coercive tactics to change the status quo. India has taken a strong stand against such a Chinese move.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval heads to Beijing to attend a meeting of BRICS later this month. During his visit, Doval is expected to talk with his Chinese counterpart on this issue.

In other reports, Pakistani envoy Abdul Basit met the ambassadors of Bhutan and China respectively in New Delhi. While the meetings were dismissed by all three parties as routine encounters among diplomats, South Block is keenly observing these developments in the light of the Doklam controversy.

On the sidelines of these meetings, Pranay Verma was appointed the new joint secretary responsible for China. Fluent in Mandarin and an interpreter for Atal Bihari Vajpayee between 2000-04, he is expected to lead India's diplomatic negotiations.

US ‘Looks Forward’ To Working With President-Elect Kovind

Washington: The US has congratulated president-elect Ram Nath Kovind on his electoral victory and said that it “looks forward” to working with him on regional and global issues.

Kovind, a low-key lawyer-turned-politician, was yesterday elected as India’s 14th President, the first BJP member and the second Dalit to occupy the country’s highest office.

“We want to congratulate the president-elect Ram Nath Kovind on his victory,” State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters yesterday.

Noting that the US and India have a “deep and growing strategic partnership”, she said: “We look forward to working with president-elect on regional and global issues.”

Nauert credited the close people-to-people contact between the world’s two largest democracies and “our shared democratic values” with the type of partnership they share.

A former Bihar governor, Kovind, 71, defeated the joint Opposition candidate Meira Kumar, a former Lok Sabha speaker.

Don't Bank On US And Japan, You'll Lose: Warns Chinese Daily

A swift & decisive counter attack by PM Modi on the Chinese incursions in Bhutan has rattled the communist state's establishments, and the recent naval war games has also added to its insecurities

State-guided Chinese daily Global Times today issued yet another threat that if India doesn't withdraw its forces from Doklam, China may get prepared for a military confrontation and resolve the conflict through non-diplomatic means. The paper reminded India as to how it had underestimated Beijing in 1962 and cautioned not to repeat the 'same mistake'.

Global Times' strongly-worded editorial came a day after Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj told the Parliament that there was no question of pulling Indian forces back from the Doklam territory unless China does the same. Swaraj also stated that all other countries support India's stand on the current stand-off. However, the Global Times writes that, "She (Sushma Swaraj) was lying to the parliament."

The Global Times also termed India's act on the border as incursion. It said: "First, India's invasion of Chinese territory is a plain fact. New Delhi's impetuous action stuns the international community. No other country will support India's aggression. Second, India's military strength is far behind that of China. If the conflict between China and India escalates to the intensity where their row has to be resolved through military means, India will surely lose."

The Chinese daily also refused to agree on the withdrawal of forces from the both sides, an idea that Sushma Swaraj put forward to begin the diplomatic talk. The editorial said: "India should abandon the fantasy of a long-term standoff at Doklam. China will by no means agree to the withdrawal of troops from both sides in order for talks to be held. Doklam is Chinese territory. The withdrawal of Indian troops must be a precondition for talks and China will not compromise on this stance." 

In what could be called a warning to New Delhi, it further said that "If Indian troops continue trespassing into China's territory, what Beijing may do next is to get prepared for a military confrontation and resolve the conflict through non-diplomatic means."

The Chinese mouthpiece also confirmed that what the People's Liberation Army or PLA has been doing - deployment of troops and military drills - on the border is not for show. It said: "Now that the PLA has moved in on the China-India border, they will definitely not call back troops unless they recover the Chinese territory."

Talking about grave military escalations, the paper said: "China cannot afford to lose an inch of territory. If New Delhi remains stubborn, India should get prepared for all possibilities from a potentially grave escalation of tension in the future."

Boasting about China's military capabilities, the Global Times wrote that the PLA's mobility and logistics capability could not be matched by that of its Indian counterpart. "PLA troops may appear in any area beyond the line of actual control that was previously controlled by India. The China-India border area may become a stage where China showcases the achievement of its long-term military development and reforms," it further stated.

The Global Times calls the military strength compassion between India and China 'extremely comical'. "They (India) bragged that India has more troops in the area but they fail to realise that the PLA's strong capability to deploy troops can reverse the balance of power at the border within a day. The PLA's long-range combat capability can also allow its troops in remote area to provide fire support to troops at the border," it said.

Support that India has from the United States and Japan, China thinks, "is illusory". It said: "India should by no means count on support from the US and Japan because their support is illusory. If India fancies the idea that it has a strategic card to play in the Indian Ocean, it could not be even more naive. China does hold a lot of cards and can hit India's Achilles' heel, but India has no leverage at all to have a strategic showdown with China."

Talking tough on delay in withdrawing the Indian troops, it wrote: "That the later India withdraws troops, the greater the risk that it will face from a military counteraction and the more clout it will lose politically. China's military pressure on India will increase every day and India will end up losing face and be totally disgraced."

Reduce Tension Through Direct Dialogue: Pentagon To India, China

The month-long India-China border standoff in the Sikkim sector is seen as part of same Chinese coercive tactics to change the status quo

WASHINGTON: The Pentagon has encouraged India and China to engage in a direct dialogue free of any "coercive aspects".

"We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions and free of any coercive aspects," Gary Ross, a Defence Department spokesman told PTI.

Over the past week, the US State Department too have been making similar statements, but Pentagon has sought direct dialogue between India and China on reducing tension "free of any coercive aspects".

Notably, in recent past few years, almost all the Chinese neighbours have been accusing Beijing of coercive tactics to settle border disputes.

The month-long India-China border standoff in the Sikkim sector is seen as part of same Chinese coercive tactics to change the status quo. India has taken a strong stand against such a Chinese move.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval heads to Beijing to attend a meeting of BRICS later this month. During his visit, Doval is expected to talk with his Chinese counterpart on this issue.

Responding to questions, the Pentagon refused to take sides on the issue.

"We refer you to the Governments of India and China for further information. We encourage India and China to engage in direct dialogue aimed at reducing tensions. We are not going to speculate on such matters," Ross said when asked if the Pentagon fears escalation of tension between India and China.

Early this week, a top Pentagon Commander told lawmakers that China is exploiting its economic leverage as a way to its regional political objectives.

"The Chinese have shown their willingness to exploit their economic leverage as a way to advance their regional political objectives. As China's military modernisation continues, the United States and its allies and partners will continue to be challenged to balance China's influence," General Paul Selva, USAF, said in written response to questions to the Senate Armed Services Committee for his nominee for reconfirmation as Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Selva said deterring war is an exercise in influencing China's decision calculus, making diplomacy preferable to conflict and managing crises in such a manner that they do not unintentionally escalate.

"To do this, the Joint Force will engage with the Chinese military within Congressionally mandated limits, build alliance capacity through close cooperation, and uphold international law through appropriate operations," he said in written response to the questions.

Israel Keen To Negotiate Free Trade Pact, But India Not Ready

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem early this month

But cooperation in defence, space, water and farm tech high on agenda

by Amiti Sen

India is not interested in re-starting discussions on a Free Trade agreement (FTA) with Israel despite Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s successful visit to that country recently as it expects to gain little from such a pact, a government official said.

Scope For Ties

There is, however, a lot of scope for cooperation in areas such as defence off-set manufacturing, space technology, drip irrigation and agriculture, which have shot into priority following the historic meeting between the Indian Prime Minister and his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu and preparatory work has already started.

Not Much Gain

“While the Israelis are keen to negotiate an FTA with India and have also communicated their interest, internal studies and industry consultations carried out by the Commerce Ministry over the years have shown that there are no discernible gains for the country,” a senior official told BusinessLine.

FTAs are required when there are stiff tariffs or non-tariff barriers between two trade partners, but India does not face any problems with Israel either on the tariffs front or in the form of technical barriers, the official explained. India-Israel bilateral trade was at $5 billion in 2016-17 with India’s exports at $3 billion and imports at $2 billion.

While the amount is higher than last year’s bilateral trade of $4.9 billion, it is lower than the $6-billion level of 2012-13 and 2013-14.

More Tie-Ups

But India is positive about the scope for greater cooperation as the two countries have different areas of strength and can gain by sharing technology and expertise.

“Israel’s strength lies in areas such as security, defence and irrigation while India is strong in space technology, defence off-set manufacturing and many services. There will be an increased number of tie-ups following the visit based on the MoUs signed by both leaders,” the official said.

The MEA has already started circulating the notes related to the visit to all Ministries and Departments concerned and work based on the MoUs would begin soon, the official added.

Modi and Netanyahu signed seven MoUs including ones on water conservation, industrial R&D fund, agriculture and space research.

Russia To Sign Three Key Pacts For Kudankulam Units 5 & 6 This Month

Reactors 1 & 2 seen at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station in Tirunelveli, Tamil Nadu

Expects India to choose site soon for a second nuclear power plant

by M Ramesh

Chennai: Russian companies will sign three key agreements with Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd for Kudankulam units 5 and 6, by the end of this month, said Sergey Orlov, who heads the India operations of Atomstroyexport, one of the Russian companies engaged in the construction of nuclear power projects.

The ‘long manufacturing cycle equipment and first priority equipment agreement’ would give the go-ahead to the Russian companies to begin production of key equipment such as reactor pressure vessels and steam generators, which take long time to manufacture.

The other two agreements are called ‘first priority designing’ and ‘contract for working documentation’ and are, like the first agreement, essential foundational agreements for starting the projects. The three agreements follow the signing of the ‘general framework agreement’ between NPCIL and its Russian counterpart, Rosatom, on June 1, 2017. Addressing journalists here, Orlov said Russia’s intention was to “start construction work on one unit each year” for the next four years. The ‘first pour of concrete’ for Unit 3, a milestone event in the construction of a nuclear power plant, happened on June 29. It would be another 69 months before electricity starts flowing out of the plant. Units 4, 5 and 6 would follow in the next three years, and accordingly the four units would be commissioned in the years between 2023 and 2026, Orlov said. Each unit, like units 1 and 2 at Kudankulam which are generating power today, is of 1,000 MW capacity.

India’s Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act (or ‘nuclear liability law’) seems to have scared away foreign nuclear reactor suppliers such as GE, Areva and Westinghouse, because it is perceived to be imposing an unlimited liability on the supplier if there is an accident arising out of a defect in the equipment. Experts have observed that the Indian liability law is very different from similar laws in other countries, which limit the suppliers’ liability.

Liability Issue

Asked how the Russians would deal with the Indian nuclear liability law when other countries could not, Orlov said the Russians had been monitoring the evolution of the Indian law in close consultation with lawyers and had seen it “evolving to be more realistic.” While disclaiming any expertise in the matter, because “I am not a lawyer”, Orlov observed that there was a cap on the liability and an insurance pool had been created. But above all, he said Rosatom was owned by the government of Russia and “so we have all the guarantees and back-up of the Russian government.”

The units 3 and 4 are estimated to cost ₹ 39,747 crore ($6.2 billion), compared with ₹ 20,962 crore for units 1 and 2. Orlov disagreed that the doubling of the costs was mainly because of the ‘nuclear liability’ issue, as some foreign experts have suggested, but was due to general inflation. Units 1 and 2, he pointed out, were signed for a long time ago. The World Nuclear Association estimates the cost of power from units 3 and 4 to be ₹3.9 a kWhr.

According to the inter-governmental agreement between India and Russia, the Russians will also build six more units, of 1,200 MW each at a different site that will be selected by India. Earlier, Haripur in West Bengal was being considered, but after local protests, a site in Andhra Pradesh is being assessed.

Orlov said NPCIL wishes to sign agreements for all the six units in one go, rather than in sets of two, as in the case of Kudankulam units. Noting that it was “a major option for the new sites” Orlov said signing one agreement for six units will help shorten the time for negotiations and enable the Russians to deal with manufacturers for serial production.