Sunday, October 21, 2018

Israel’s Elta May Have Won Fire Control Radar Contract For Tejas Jets

Israel's ELTA Systems, a division and subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), has been awarded a $55-million contract for the provision of Multi-Mode Airborne ELM-2032 Fire Control Radars to be installed on newly produced advanced combat aircraft. The radar offers a broad range of operational modes, including high-resolution mapping in Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) mode, detection, tracking, and imaging of aircraft, moving ground and sea targets. The contract is a repeat order, reflecting the customer's high satisfaction with the radar and ELTA.

Elta had been in the race along with Thales of France to supply the fire control radar for the TEJAS project and reports in the Indian media earlier this year said that the Israeli firm many have won the contest with only the contract remaining to be signed.

Yoav Turgeman, IAI VP and CEO of ELTA, said in the press release on 16th October that, "The Multi-Mode ELM-2032 Airborne Fire Control Radars is a versatile radar and addresses several mission types in a single product. Its field of regard, long detection range and accurate tracking provides the pilots with full situation awareness, and its accurate information is used by the aircraft's systems. We are excited about winning this contract, and are grateful that our customers consider ELTA's radars as best in its class."

The release also said that the contract is a repeat order. India had previously ordered an earlier version of the radar for its Jaguar upgrade program.

The ELM-2032 is an advanced pulse Doppler, multi-mode planar array fire-control radar intended for multi-role fighter aircraft which originated from the defunct Lavi project. It is suitable for air-to-air and air-to-surface modes. The ELM-2032 offers a broad range of operational modes, including high-resolution mapping in SAR mode, detection, tracking, and imaging of aircraft, moving ground and sea targets.

This radar has been integrated with several Indian platforms, as part of modernisation programs of India's Sea Harrier, Jaguar (earlier version), Mirage-2000, and MiG-21 fighters. Significantly, it was also selected for India's TEJAS light fighter. It is also installed in A-4, F-4, F-5, F-16, Kfir C-10 and the Korean T-50 and FA-50.

The radar can be installed on a variety of airborne fighters. As one of the leading radars of its type, it is operational in many countries worldwide.

Our Bureau

Pakistan Confident of Bypassing The Indian S-400 With Ababeel Missiles

The S-400 is touted to be the world's most advanced and effective air defence system

Pakistan warned that Indian purchase of Russian S-400 missile system could destabilise the region but simultaneously downplayed its effectiveness, noting that Pakistan had missiles that could bypass the S-400 Air Defence System.

“The Indian purchase of S-400 missile system is a part of their efforts to acquire a Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System through multiple sources. This will further destabilise strategic stability in South Asia, besides leading to a renewed arms race,” Pakistan Foreign Office stated.

India and Russia inked a $5.43 billion pact for five S-400 ‘Triumf’ missile systems. The deal is being dubbed one of the biggest defence deals signed by India with a potential defend any of Pakistan’s or Chinese misadventure. Moscow is expected to deliver the missiles to Delhi by 2020.

Doubtful Ababeel MIRV Capability? While India still struggles mastering MIRV technology, incredibly and amusingly, Pakistan had claimed MIRV capability

India has been working on the development of a multi-layer ballistic missile defence system for quite some time. Besides the S-400 deal, India has large-scale cooperation with Israel for air defence systems and has also been working extensively on indigenous defence systems.

Experts in Pakistan, however, claim that India may not be able to fully defend itself from strikes by Pakistani missiles because of the short distance between India and Pakistan. However, it is evident that India would be able to protect its major cities like Delhi and Mumbai from any possible strikes during a war.

Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) had last year pointed out the development of Ababeel Missile System that is equipped with ‘MIRV’ capability to defeat the air defence system of India. The NCA had described the attainment of MIRV capability as “technological breakthrough of Pakistan’s capabilities”.

NIA Releases List of ‘Most Wanted’ Fugitives

A select few from NIA's most wanted list, the list also includes Naxals & N-E based fugitives

The National Investigation Agency has released a list of most wanted fugitives who are wanted in many cases. The agency has labeled them as biggest threats to the safety of community

New Delhi: The National Investigation Agency has released a list of most wanted fugitives and has sought help from the public in locating them to make India safer. “NIA need your help in locating fugitives. If you have any information, please call at 011-24368800 or mail at,” the agency tweeted. According to the tweet, the identity of the people will be kept secret. 

Head of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen Syed Salahuddin, controversial Islamic preacher Zakir Naik, Head of Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami Ilyas Kashmiri, Jama'at-ud-Da'wah chief Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, Lashkar-e-Taiba’s top leader Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi are some of the prominent names in this most wanted list.

"The photos you see here represent the biggest threats to the safety of our community. Select the images of suspected terrorists to display more information," the tweet reads.

In the newly released list, a red dot can be seen at the bottom right of the picture which indicates red notice issued by Interpol. The rupee sign indicates money reward declared by the NIA for information leading to arrest of the absconder. 57 criminals have money reward on them.

India first released a list of the 50 most wanted fugitives allegedly hiding in Pakistan on May 2011, after the killing of Osama bin Laden in Operation Neptune Spear. It was prepared in consultation with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the NIA, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) and various law enforcement agencies.

Names which appear in the list are only removed if the people are captured or die or the charges against them are dropped. The list also contains information about their organisation, crimes committed, charges pressed and their aliases.

Sweden In Race For India's Second MMRCA Contract, Says Air Force Chief Mats Helgesson

Times Now National Affairs Editor Srinjoy Chowdhury & Swedish Air Chief Mats Helgesson

Swedish Air Chief Major General Mats Helgesson in conversation with Times Now National Affairs

As India's second MMRCA contract is out, the country will decide whether to strike a deal for the Gripen fighter jet in partnership with Swedish company SAAB. Swedish Air Chief Major General Mats Helgesson was on a visit to India as the two countries prepare to increase the defence dialogue. The upcoming Gripen aircraft will be one step ahead in the field of fighter jets with improved endurance and advanced sensors, Helgesson said.

An exclusive chat with Major General Mats Helgesson - watch Video:

India’s Skillful Posturing With The US

Relations between the United States and India have gradually improved, but the world’s largest democracy has an independent streak as seen in two recent cases: First, India signed a multi-billion deal to purchase a Russian air-defence missile system thereby risking sanctions approved by the US Congress in 2017. Second, the United States withdrew from the international agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear weapons program, and India is second only to China in purchasing Iranian oil. India hopes for an exemption on sanctions with both cases. “With the S-400 deal, India has ensured that Russia will remain the main supplier of high-tech defence equipment for the foreseeable future while challenging Washington on an issue now regarded as the primary national security challenge by many in the United States,” explains Harsh V Pant. He adds that sanctions for either case would be counterproductive. The US-Indo relationship has matured, he concludes, and the two countries continue to work on agreements that the United States signs with close defence partners for the sale of high-end technologies

India and the US may have policy differences on Russia and Iran, but keep big-picture focus on defence cooperation

by Harsh V Pant

LONDON: Defying threats of US sanctions, India signed a $5.4 billion deal to buy the S-400 Triumf air defence missile system from Russia during President Vladimir Putin’s visit to New Delhi in early October. This is one of the biggest Indo-Russian defence deals in recent times with expectation in some quarters that it could revive an otherwise flagging Indo-Russian relationship. During the visit, the two nations “reaffirmed their commitment to the Special and Privileged Strategic Partnership between India and Russia,” and underscored the value of multipolarity and multilateralism.

The US response to the deal was quick and terse, and India’s move could attract sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act on defence purchases from Russia, approved by US Congress 98 to 2 in 2017. While underlining that act is not aimed at stymieing military capabilities of American “allies or partners” and that the intent is “to impose costs on Russia for its malign behavior, including by stopping the flow of money to Russia’s defence sector,” the United States made it clear that waivers would be considered on a “transaction-by-transaction basis.” More ominously, US President Donald Trump suggested that India would soon “find out” if the punitive sanctions apply over the Russian deal as the State Department argues such deals are “not helpful” and the US is reviewing them “very carefully.”

Indian defence planners view the S-400 as a key capability enhancer as it can track multiple incoming targets including aircraft, missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles up to 400 kilometers in distance and 30 kilometers in altitude. With the deal, India has ensured that Russia will remain the main supplier of high-tech defence equipment for the foreseeable future while challenging Washington on an issue now regarded as the primary national security challenge by many in the United States.

It’s no surprise, therefore, that this was among the main issues during September’s inaugural 2+2 dialogue between the foreign and defence ministers of India and the United States. Officials signed a Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement, or COMCASA, one of four foundational agreements that the United States signs with its closest defence partners to facilitate interoperability between militaries and sale of high-end technology. The General Security of Military Information Agreement was signed in 2002 and the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement in 2016, and so this one had been pending for some time. The final agreement required is the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement facilitating Geo-Spatial exchange, and negotiations have yet to start. COMCASA is expected to facilitate access to advanced defence systems and enable India to optimally utilise its existing US-origin platforms.

Even under an administration as mercurial and transactional as President Donald Trump’s, Indo-US relations have managed to gather momentum, shaped by the underlying strategic logic of the convergence between the two nations. India has managed to find a central place in the Trump administration’s strategic worldview as outlined in the National Security Strategy and National Defence Strategy. Both on China and Pakistan, the Trump administration has demonstrated a willingness to push the boundaries – this is reflected in its approach to make India more integral to Asian balance of power as outlined in the US Indo-Pacific strategy as well as in an attempt to reshape the contours of America’s South Asia strategy, which acknowledges India’s centrality in the future of Afghanistan while recognising Pakistan as the source of the problem.

The US position in the Indian defence matrix has also evolved with India buying $18 billion worth of defence items from the United States since 2008, though the much-hyped Defence Technology and Trade Initiative aimed at boosting joint development and co-production of defence equipment fails to live up to expectation so far. The 2+2 dialogue saw the two nations focusing on enhancing private defence industry collaboration, helping Indian defence manufacturers to join the US military supply chain, thereby boosting the Modi government’s “Make in India” initiative as well as placing innovation at the heart of this defence collaboration. Given these high stakes, both US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defence James Mattis have supported waivers for India on its weapon deals with Russia.

The United States imposed sanctions in September on Chinese entities for their S-400 deal. If Trump makes an exemption for India, that would have global reverberations. Already, suggestions are emanating from Beijing that India and China need to deepen cooperation to fight trade protectionism in the wake of the unilateral approach adopted by the United States on trade-related disputes. China is taking a new cooperative approach towards India, and the Trump administration’s outreach is part of this complex equation.

The other challenge facing Indo-US relations is the persistent question of Iran. After Trump withdrew from the international deal for containing Iran’s nuclear weapons program in May, he signed an executive order officially reinstating US sanctions against Iran. The full weight of these sanctions come into force on November 4 despite most of the world opposing Washington’s move.

India regards it a priority to obtain waivers from Washington. The country is the second largest buyer of Iranian oil after China. Indian firms have already started feeling the pressure of US sanctions, reducing oil intake from Iran, though that is unlikely to come down to zero. Iran accounts for around 10 percent of India’s total oil imports, and Reuters reported that Indian refiners reduced monthly crude loading from Iran for September and October by nearly half from earlier this year. Also, New Delhi is in a quandary as falling rupee and rising oil prices are generating public pressure. In this context, India would be hard pressed to ignore Iran and its concessionary rates on oil purchases . Two Indian oil firms have placed orders to import Iranian crude, and in an attempt to bypass US sanctions, New Delhi is trying to evolve another payment system to buy Iran’s oil and use Indian rupees.

On the questions of both Russia and Iran, India has indicated that it must keep its channel of communications with the United States open, and Washington has indicated that it remains sensitive to Indian needs. Equally interesting is that there have been no public spats between India and the United States on these issues – a sign of growing maturity in the relationship. Sanctions on India would be counterproductive to Indo-US ties by pushing India into a Russian embrace and jeopardising Indian interests in the Middle East. Washington has far better appreciation of Indian sensitivities today, and New Delhi displays more skilful strategic posturing when it comes to the United States. Giving in to American public pressure on these issues would open New Delhi to charges of giving up its “strategic autonomy” – a charge any Indian government would like to avoid with elections around the corner.

The 2+2 joint statement talks of the need “to ensure freedom of the seas, skies, uphold the peaceful resolutions of the maritime disputes, promote market-based economics and good governance and prevent external economic coercion.” So long as the two sides can keep the focus on the big picture, differences on Russia and Iran are not likely to alter the broader trajectory of the relationship between the world’s two great democracies.

Harsh V Pant is director, Studies at Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi and professor of international relations at King’s College London

Don’t Play Politics Over Defence Buys

by Manmohan Bahadur VM

The Indian Air Force turned eighty-six on October 8. While professionals at Air Headquarters do a regular assessment of IAF’s capabilities it is essential that certain aspects of its prowess, that they cannot comment on, be discussed for strengthening India’s security apparatus, in which air power is a vital cog. When we talk about the modernisation of the IAF, a key question is—have we seriously analysed the effects on the nation’s deterrence posture of the systemic debilitation in the accretion of defence capability?

Most big ticket purchases of the government, irrespective of the political party in power, have got mired in controversy. The author has no expertise on commenting on the veracity of the alleged malfeasance but the controversies have had a worrying level of impact on the IAF’s ability to project power and be a deterrent force. Make no mistake—for the next decade or so the IAF is well placed to take on the air power of its adversaries and help the Indian Army and Navy in their tasks. This is for three reasons. First, its equipment is better—offensive assets like the Sukhoi, Mirage and Rafale (arriving soon); combat enablers like AWACS (Airborne warning and control system) and flight refuellers; and vital transport and helicopter fleets. Second, the training of its personnel is superior, and third, the air forces of the adversaries are still in the build-up phase. However, it is the trajectory of their build-up, coupled with the debilitation of our force accretion process, which is the worrying factor.

The history of capability accretion by nations is an example. The Greek and the Roman Empires expanded their boundaries due to their military power, but when their rulers strayed from the path of what Chanakya would call rajdharma and neglected their duty of maintaining a fighting edge over their adversaries, their influence waned. In the twentieth century the world witnessed the industrialisation and re-armament of Japan and Nazi Germany and their subsequent defeat by the Soviet Union and US; the latter had the full force of the national and political will to industrialise and militarise.

After World War II, the industrialisation and re-armament of China has been driven by a grand national strategy. This may not necessarily portend conflict, due to changed geo-political dynamics, to include economic globalisation, but as historian Paul Kennedy argues in his magnum opus The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, as a nation’s economic power grows, it has to go offshore for raw materials, resulting in conflicts—that’s what drove Hitler’s lebensraum and Japan’s annexations in Asia. China’s growing influence in the world and the aggressiveness of its Belt and Road Initiative must, therefore, be analysed keeping in mind their security implications. The proverbial powder must be kept dry—but for this, it first needs to be available in the right measure and at the right time. The plans to shore up IAF’s dwindling assets, therefore, need our attention.

In a recent seminar on IAF’s structure held in Delhi by the Centre for Air Power Studies, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff, the officer looking after procurements, was clear about the requirements—the Rafales must come by 2022, and 123 Tejas within the next decade. There must not be any hitch in the import of 114 multi-role fighters, and the DRDO must push for the Tejas Mk2 (still on the drawing board), of which the IAF will acquire twelve squadrons. More combat enablers (AWACS and flight refuellers) are needed and the fifth generation Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft, hopefully, will fly in 2032. The IAF sure has a plate full of hopes, going by the snail mail speed of past procurements. But this had better change.

The change has to come on two fronts. First, the R&D and defence manufacturing sector, where there is no alternative but the government’s hands-on, result-driven, private-sector-inclusive, carrot-and-stick approach. Second, and this is more revolutionary, with a bigger imperative: Both sides of the political aisle must devise a strategy to cooperate in the face of this crisis of serious proportions that is staring us in the face—if the capability build-up is delayed any further, the deterrent posture of the armed forces could get affected. Politics, they say, is the art of the possible—if ever it has to be proved right, it is now. It’s been done before, as written about by veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta, when the opposition sided in national interest with the government’s decision to pay an advance to the Russians before the Sukhoi contract was signed. If ‘both sides’, together, now select the CBI chief, the CVC and Lokpal why can’t ‘both sides’ be part of the defence acquisition structure, say at the Defence Acquisition Council level, for high value purchases? Well, the level and scope can be a matter of discussion but first let there be a consensus to do this in national interest.

Maybe a cost-benefit analysis could help drive home the gravity of the looming crisis. While making recommendations for the US defence budget 2018-22, the Senate Armed Services Committee was critical of the defence outlay and quoted their Army Chief of Staff as saying, “The only thing more expensive than deterrence is actually fighting a war, and the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is fighting one and losing one.” India has to aim for the cheapest option and ensure that there is no slouching in its deterrence posture. Sagacity and rationality in the political discourse are needed to allow capability build-up to proceed unhindered. The converse—the expensive option—is unthinkable.

Post Script: The euphoric media coverage of the Indo-Russian S-400 deal must be seen in the correct perspective: it would be an acquisition of a potent, and necessary, defensive asset. Though it is not one that carries war to the adversary—the other requirements are still vital.

Navjot Sidhu’s Love For Islamabad Boomerangs After Pakistan Provokes Sikhs To Revolt Against India

Congress leader and Punjab Minister, during his visit to Pakistan, was seen hugging that country's Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa

After Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu praised Pakistan for respecting Sikhs, a video surfaced on social media in which a Pakistani cop can be seen provoking the Sikhs to rise against ‘oppressive’ India

New Delhi: In a major embarrassment for Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu a video has surfaced in which a cop from Pakistan Police is provoking the Sikhs to revolt against India. In the video, the cop can be heard urging the Sikhs to rise against the oppression. The cop goes on to say that Sikhs in India are facing oppression from the Indian regime and that they should rise against their oppressors.

This is a tight slap on the face of Sidhu who is playing politics in the name of Sikh and keeps on praising Pakistan every now and then. A senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader called this a tight slap on Sidhu’s face and slammed him for playing into the hands of Pakistan.

Speaking at literature festival the cricketer turned politician had earlier said that travel experience in Pakistan is better than South India.

“For me, when I travel to South, I can't understand the language. Not that I dont like the food, but I cannot have it for a long time, the culture is totally different. When I got to Pakistan, the language is the same, like you know, when you abuse in English 10 times, one abuse in Punjabi overpowers all,” he had said.

Sidhu’s visit to Pakistan for attending Imran Khan’s swearing-in ceremony generated widespread condemnation from all quarters.

After returning from Pakistan he had claimed that Islamabad will open the corridor of Kartarpur Sahib on the occasion of the 550th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak, which will be celebrated next year. However, external affairs minister (EAM) Sushma Swaraj issued a clarification and said that there was no official communication from the Pakistani government for establishing the corridor.

FATF Dissatisfied Over Pakistan's Efforts To Combat Terror Financing: Media Report

Even in areas where legal framework was robust, the APG found the implementation as too weak, the report said

Expressing dissatisfaction over Pakistan's efforts to combat terror financing, a delegation of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) has asked the country to take robust steps to strengthen its legal framework if it wants to avoid being blacklisted by the anti-money laundering watchdog, according to a media report on Saturday.

Currently placed on the FATF's 'grey list', Pakistan has been scrambling in recent months to avoid being added to a list of countries deemed non-compliant with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing regulations by the Paris-based watchdog, a measure that officials here fear could further hurt its economy.

A nine-member team of the FATF's Asia-Pacific Group (APG), which visited Pakistan from October 8 to October 19 to review the progress made by it on an action plan agreed in June to address global concerns, has finalised a report with 40 recommendations for de-listing Islamabad from its 'grey list' from September 2019.

However, the APG delegation has expressed dissatisfaction over Pakistan's progress to comply with international best practices against money laundering and counter-terror financing, the Dawn reported.

Quoting sources, it said the APG delegation, which shared its final findings with the authorities, has highlighted shortcomings on anti-money laundering front, control and monitoring of non-profit organisations and counter-terror financing mechanism as various institutions suffered poor interface of information sharing and action to combat these deficiencies.

Even in areas where legal framework was robust, the APG found the implementation as too weak, the report said.

Highlighting deficiencies in law, regulations and mechanisms and weaknesses of various institutions, the delegation said with this pace, Pakistan was unlikely to get out of the grey list.

The authorities, according to sources, were told in clear terms that Pakistan would have to make robust and significant progress from now onward and before the next on-site review in March-April if it want to move out of the grey list or else would fall into the blacklist having serious consequences.

Officials of the ministries of interior, finance, foreign affairs and law besides the State Bank of Pakistan, the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan, the National Counter-Terrorism Authority, the FIA, the Federal Board of Revenue, the National Accountability Bureau, the Anti-Narcotics Force, the FMU, the Central Directorate of National Savings and provincial counter-terrorism departments attended the briefings and explanations.

The APG would submit its draft report to the Pakistani authorities by November 19. The country was asked to submit its response to the findings within 15 days after the receipt of the report on the basis of which the APG would submit its interim report to the FATF in Paris.

The APG delegation will visit Pakistan again in March-April next year for another 'on-site mutual evaluation' whose report will be made public in July 2019.

The delegation also informed Finance Minister Asad Umar that the relevant agencies during their interactions with the APG were either ill-prepared or ill-informed or were unwilling to share information.

The visiting team included Ian Collins of the United Kingdom's Scotland Yard, James Prussing of the United States Department of the Treasury, Ashraf Abdullah of the Financial Intelligence Unit of the Maldives, Bobby Wahyu Hernawan of the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, Gong Jingyan of the Peoples Bank of China and Mustafa Necmeddin Oztop of the Turkish Ministry of Justice.

The three members of the APG secretariat include Executive Secretary Gordon Hook, Deputy Directors Mohammad Al-Rashdan and Shannon Rutherford.

In June, Pakistan had made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF to address its strategic counter-terrorist financing-related deficiencies by implementing a 10-point action plan. The successful implementation of the action plan and its physical verification by the FATF will get Pakistan out of the 'grey list' from September 2019.

By January next year, Pakistan will have to identify and assess domestic and international terror financing risks to and from its system to strengthen investigations and improve inter-agency — FIA, SBP, SECP, banks, home and interior departments and associated agencies — coordination, as well as federal and provincial coordination to combat these risks.

The government will also have to complete the profiling of terror groups or suspected terrorists and their financial assets and strengths, besides their members and their family backgrounds, and make them accessible at the inter-agency level. Besides, Pakistan will also have to complete investigation into the widest range of terror financing activities, including appeals and calls for donations and collection of funds, and their movements and uses. The outcome will have to be published at least twice before September next year.

Russia's Rosatom Ships Out Equipment For Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project

The weight of the separators is 47 tonnes; their height is around six metres and diameter is four metres. Product lifetime is 30 years

CHENNAI: Rosatom, the Russian atomic energy corporation, on Saturday said its machine building division Atomenergomash has shipped out equipment for Unit 4 of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP).

In a statement issued here, Rosatom said the equipment includes moisture separator reheaters.

In total, there will be four sets of moisture separator reheaters, two sets have already been shipped.

Moisture Separator Reheaters, manufactured by ZiO-Podolsk, a subsidiary of Atomenergomash, are designed to remove water condensed from the process stream to maximise thermal efficiency and reliability of the low-pressure turbine.

The weight of the separators is 47 tonnes; their height is around six metres and diameter is four metres. Product lifetime is 30 years.

Indian atomic power plant operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) has two 1,000 MW nuclear power plants at KNPP built with Russian equipment.

Two more units were being set up at Kudankulam.

Meanwhile, the first two units are shut down for maintenance work.

ARAB SCAN: America’s Double Standards On S-400 Missile System Sanctions

by Dr Theodore Karasik

Russia’s ability to sell its S-400 air defence system to several different countries in different theatres illustrates the geopolitics of this particular system. For buyers and policymakers, it is changing the way missile systems are sold by Russia and measures how the US sees these sales from a geopolitical point of view.

Despite US sanctions on the Russian defence company Almaz-Antey, Moscow is offering or has sold the S-400 to a number of countries, including NATO member Turkey. China acquired the first S-400 system, including the command post, radar stations and launching stations, which resulted in the US State Department last month imposing sanctions on China’s Equipment Development Department, the military branch responsible for weapons and equipment, and its director, Li Shangfu, for engaging in “significant transactions” with Rosoboronexport, Russia’s main arms exporter.

The move, made possible by last year’s US congressional passage of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA), seeks to penalise countries who purchase weapons from Russia, North Korea and Iran. Notably, China is being sanctioned for taking delivery of these systems and not for the conclusion of the sales contracts with Russia. Here, geopolitics by the Donald Trump White House is pushing Russia and China closer together.

The US is also watching closely for other S-400 sales to countries such as Algeria, Belarus, Iran and Vietnam, thus reducing the American sphere of influence and boosting Russia’s ability to arm, equip and train other countries’ air defense capabilities regardless of the theater. The key issue here is what the US will do given the defense requirements of other countries who want to continue to do defense business with Moscow. Both Turkey and, in particular, India now stand out.

Naturally, any sale of the S-400 to Turkey — which is a done deal — has made waves with American officials discussing ways in which to convince Ankara to think otherwise. These measures include pressure tactics such as the threat of sanctions. Questions about the interoperability of the system are obvious and any such sale of the missile system to either one of these countries means it will be standalone in either country’s air defense architecture.

The sale of five S-400 missile systems to India raised eyebrows, however, because the Trump administration and ultimately the US Congress gave New Delhi a pass on penalising the country for buying the system from Russia. On July 24, the US Senate and House passed a bill that allows India to buy the Russian weapon system without the threat of American sanctions. CAATSA is apparently not set in stone and sales may be judged on a case-by-case basis.

The sanctions are apparently not set in stone and sales may be judged on a case-by-case basis.

Modifications to CAATSA’s Section 231 enables the US president to waive sales like the S-400 to protect US alliances, like the one it has with India. Importantly, Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman made clear that CAATSA was a US law and not a UN law. Negotiations for the S-400 missiles have been ongoing for several years and predates America’s problem with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, from New Delhi’s point of view.

Importantly, the US is India’s largest arms supplier after Russia. US firms have sold India more than $10 billion-worth of military hardware, mainly aircraft, over the last decade. The Indian Air Force operates frontline US aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster, the C-130J Super Hercules and will soon receive Apache helicopter gunships and Chinook transport helicopters. But US policymakers worry that their aircraft’s radar signatures and transmission frequencies being exposed to the S-400 missile system will allow Russia to counter them in other potential conflict zones.

To be sure, India sees the S-400 as part of its strategy to maintain a credible deterrence along two fronts with China and Pakistan, who both have impressive military credentials. This fact means the system can see deep inside Pakistani territory and pick up aircraft as soon as they are airborne. Deployed along the eastern border with China, the missile system can easily monitor fighter jets taking off from airfields along the Tibetan highlands. India’s air defence architecture allows for the S-400 to become integrated into the top layer.

India also sees the S-400 as an answer to its shrinking fighter strength. It is retiring the Russian MiG-21, MiG-27 and MiG-29 aircraft and the last batch of Russian-Indian Su-30MKI fighters is being produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s Nashik factory. India is entertaining a number of future fighter procurement packages, especially from France, which are to be delivered in 2021. From an Indian defence doctrine point of view, the S-400 will free up multi-role fighters to do air-to-ground missions instead of an air superiority role, all with America’s permission.

Overall, the US is applying different standards to implementing sanctions when Russian arms sales are involved. Moscow recognizes this fact and Rosoboronexport’s strategy is likely to push more sales of the S-400 and other equipment in order to test American resolve to slap sanctions on as many countries as possible. If the geopolitical game is not appreciated by all parties, this is where the US sanctions policy can backfire.

US, China, India And Other Powers Agree To Multilateral Air Encounter Code

A B-2 "Spirit" stealth bomber of the United States Air Force

The world's two biggest economies as well as Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea tentatively joined the agreement

Several countries including the United States and China agreed "in principle" on Saturday to multilateral guidelines to manage unexpected encounters between their military aircraft, joining 10 Southeast Asian nations already in the pact.

The world's two biggest economies as well as Australia, India, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, South Korea tentatively joined the agreement, which was initially adopted on Friday by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), according to a joint statement issued after a meeting of defence ministers from the 18 countries in Singapore.

The voluntary, non-binding guidelines build on an existing code to manage sea encounters adopted by all 18 countries last year, which was designed to mitigate risks following a boom in the region's maritime and air traffic in recent years.

"We all know that if there is a physical incident it changes the name of the creates a cascade of activities that you cannot control," Singapore defence minister Ng Eng Hen, the host, said at a press briefing following the meeting.

The air code has been hailed as the first multilateral deal of its kind, although such arrangements exist at bilateral levels. The U.S. and China, for instance, in 2015 signed a pact on a military hotline and rules governing air-to-air encounters.

U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis told his Chinese counterpart, Wei Fenghe, on Thursday that their countries needed to deepen high-level ties so as to navigate tension and rein in the risk of inadvertent conflict.

The U.S. military flew B-52 bombers across the South China Sea in September. Earlier this month, a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands China claims, drawing the ire of Beijing.

Defence Ministry To Float Tender For 12 Minesweepers

INS Cannanore the Soviet era minesweeper of the Pondicherry class is already obsolete

Navies deploy minesweepers to secure harbours by locating and destroying mines

India is soon expected to float a fresh tender to build 12 mine-counter measure vessels (MCMVs), popularly called minesweepers, in collaboration with a foreign shipyard under a Rs. 32,640 crore program, one of the costliest projects under the Make in India initiative, said a top government official familiar with the development.

The request for proposals could be out by the year-end, said Rear Admiral Shekhar Mital (retd), who heads Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) that will build the MSMVs or minesweepers in India. South Korean shipyard Kangnam Corporation and Italian shipbuilder Intermarine are expected to compete for the lucrative project. Both shipyards responded to an Indian request for expression of interest (EoI) for the project in May.

“The navy is finalising its qualitative requirements for the minesweepers before holding discussions with the defence ministry to take the project ahead,” Mital said.

This is India’s third attempt in a decade to strengthen the navy’s mine warfare capabilities.

“The gap in the navy’s mine-sweeping capabilities is huge and it leaves the fleet vulnerable. The new tender is a welcome move. However, questions need to be asked internally as to why we have taken decades to fill this capability gap,” said Commodore C Uday Bhaskar (Retd), director, Society for Policy Studies.

The government issued an EoI on March 21 after previous negotiations with Kangnam Corporation to build the minesweepers collapsed at the final stage. As reported by HT on January 8, talks with the shipyard failed because of commercial complications.

Kangnam Corporation had competed with Intermarine for the project. Before this, government scrapped a deal in 2014 to build minesweepers in India in partnership with Kangnam Corporation, amid allegations that the South Korean firm had hired middlemen to swing things in its favour.

The navy’s present mine counter-measure force consists of just two vessels, out of the six bought from the erstwhile Soviet Union in the late 1970s. It requires at least 24 minesweepers to secure major harbours in the country.

India would be without a single minesweeper till 2021, warned a March 2017 parliamentary report on the alarming decline in naval force levels. With the programme being delayed further, the navy will be without minesweepers even beyond 2021-22.

Goa Shipyard Limited (GSL) may take five years to build the 12 minesweepers that will have 60% indigenous content.

Facilities have been created at GSL for building glass-reinforced plastic hulls, a design that reduces the ship’s magnetic signature, allows safer navigation through mine-infested waters. These underwater weapons can detonate on contact, or be activated by magnetic and acoustic signatures.

Next IMF Loan Will Be 'The Last': Pakistan Finance Minister

IMF chief Christine Lagarde greets Pak Finance Minister Asad Umar during Fund's annual meeting

Umar spoke in grave terms of the country's balance of payment crisis, which has sparked a depreciation of the rupee and sent stocks tumbling

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's finance minister promised Saturday to end the country's reliance on International Monetary Fund bailouts to shore up its shaky economy, as officials prepare to negotiate a new loan.

Asad Umar's pledge comes days after Pakistan's central bank warned inflation could double in the coming year hitting 7.5 per cent while the country's growth target rate of 6.2 per cent would likely be missed.

"This will be the 13th and the last IMF programme," Umar said during a speech at the Karachi Stock Exchange.

Prime Minister Imran Khan's administration has sent mixed messages over whether Pakistan will enter another IMF programme, with the former cricketer suggesting this week that going to the fund may not be necessary.

But Umar spoke in grave terms of the country's balance of payment crisis, which has sparked a depreciation of the rupee and sent stocks tumbling.

"We are heading towards bankruptcy very fast. We have to save the 210 million Pakistanis," Umar added.

An IMF team is set to arrive in Pakistan in early November to begin negotiations. Similar vows to end reliance on IMF loans have been made by past governments including former premier Nawaz Sharif's administration, which received a USD 6.6 billion loan to tackle a similar crisis in 2013.

Khan's new administration took office in August vowing to weigh up whether to seek an IMF bailout as it sought other avenues of financing, including from "friendly" countries such as China and Saudi Arabia.

But aid has been in short supply and economists' warnings have grown urgent.

The government also announced this week that Khan would attend a controversial Saudi Arabian investment summit in the coming days,

The meeting has been shunned by leading policy-makers and corporate chiefs in response to the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul -- a scandal that has tipped Riyadh into a diplomatic crisis.

Rajnath Singh Meets Sri Lankan PM; Discusses Security, Anti-Terror Cooperation

Wickremesinghe arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit with an aim to boost ties in a range of areas including trade, investment and maritime security.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh met visiting Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe Saturday and discussed with him issues related to security and anti-terror cooperation between India and the island nation.

During the 30-minute meeting, both the leaders talked about further strengthening of India-Sri Lanka relations.

"Had a fruitful meeting with the Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Mr Ranil Wickremesinghe in New Delhi today. We had deliberations on further strengthening cooperation between India and Sri Lanka on issues pertaining to security and terrorism in the region," Singh tweeted after the meeting.

Wickremesinghe arrived in New Delhi on a three-day visit with an aim to boost ties in a range of areas including trade, investment and maritime security. 

Army Foils Infiltration Bid In Jammu And Kashmir, Kills 5 Terrorists

As per the details from the army, it was revealed that the alert troops noticed some suspicious movement near Tourna in Boniyar area in the early hours of Thursday and challenged the infiltrators which resulted in a gunbattle. Infiltration was foiled in Baramulla's Rampur on Thursday. Three militants were killed in an infiltration bid in Baramulla's Boniyar area. Later, 2 militants were killed in a gunfight in Baramulla's Kralhaar

The Indian Army foiled an infiltration bid in Uri area of North Kashmir and killed three infiltrators. According to army sources, the encounter took place when these men entered from across the line of control in this sector.

An Army spokesman said the infiltration was foiled in Baramulla's Rampur on Thursday. "Three militants have been killed so far. The operation is in progress," he said then.

As per the details from the army, it was revealed that the alert troops noticed some suspicious movement near Tourna in Boniyar area in the early hours of Thursday and challenged the infiltrators which resulted in a gunbattle. The identities of those killed have not been ascertained yet.

Meanwhile, during the day two militants were killed in a shootout in the same district of Baramulla. As per the police the incident took place when the security forces had set up a check point to search vehicles plying in the area. Two militants opened fire and this started an encounter.

A police spokesman said, "The two militants were travelling in a SUV and fired upon a checkpoint when directed to stop at the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway. A case has been registered in the shooting incident".