Saturday, December 14, 2019

‘Credible Deterrence’: How India’s New Ballistic Missile Sub Changes Regional Power Balance

INS Arihant is seen on a screen behind India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi

India’s first home-built ballistic missile submarine has completed its first patrol. Having just one such vessel may not sound like much, but for New Delhi it is a game changer.

INS Arihant (‘Foeslayer’) is the first indigenously built nuclear-powered submarine, armed with nuclear-capable ballistic missiles (SSBN). Her return to port, following a 20-day patrol in early November, was met with jubilation. Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally congratulated “all those involved” with what he called an “accomplishment, which will always be remembered in our history.”
One would think that is a bit much for just one SSBN, when India is one of the world’s most populous nations, surrounded by ocean on three sides. However, Arihant is a lot more significant that may meet the eye at first. With its completion, India completes the set commonly known as the Nuclear Triad, referring to the methods of delivering atomic weapons. Unlike the bombers and ground based missiles, submarines are arguably the hardest of the three to kill.

Guaranteed Second Strike

It is no secret that India exists in a pretty tense geopolitical environment. The nation is virtually the only country having two nuclear powers – Pakistan and China – as its neighbours, while having unresolved territorial disputes with both of them that already led to wars in the past, Dr. Shishir Upadhyaya, a former Indian Naval Intelligence officer, told RT.

New Delhi is committed to a “no first use” nuclear doctrine. Yet the spectre of a nuclear conflict still looms over the region, not least due to its extremely difficult relations with Pakistan marred by cross-border terrorism.

“Pakistan has adopted tactical level nuclear weapons that could push … a conventional conflict [to where] that could potentially escalate quickly into a nuclear conflict,” Upadhyaya explained.

Such a situation “makes it imperative for India to have a credible minimum deterrence,” the former naval officer said. This is where the Arihant comes in: a lone sub lurking somewhere in the ocean depths is certainly not an easy target, which makes it ideal for surviving the first disarming strike and guaranteeing retaliation.

“The Arihant provides India a guaranteed second-strike capability in the case of a nuclear attack scenario,” Upadhyaya told RT. The existence of such capability, in turn, raises the stakes in a potential nuclear conflict, making it less likely and the overall security situation more stable. 

This is particularly relevant in case of a potential conflict with Pakistan, as India’s conventional fleet of diesel-electric attack submarines is roughly twice the size of its neighbour's. New Delhi is considerably behind Beijing when it comes to a submarine fleet, though.

China has dozens of both nuclear-powered and diesel-electric attack submarines, and possesses at least four ballistic missile ones, according to some reports. However, the possibility of retaliation could significantly reduce the risk of conflict with China as well.

New Delhi’s ability to launch a retaliatory strike has been confirmed during Arihant’s first patrol, when India’s Nuclear Command Authority, headed by the prime minister, was able to reach the submarine using the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) communication system.

“India operates a sophisticated ELF facility at the INS Kattaboman, a naval facility in South India. Russia and the US are the only other countries with ELF capability,” Upadhyaya told RT.

Just The Beginning

Currently, INS Arihant is armed with 12 nuclear capable K-15 ballistic missiles. This is not ideal, because these missiles “have a maximum range of about 700-1000 kilometres,” according to Upadhyaya, which “means that the submarine is limited in its ability to target locations from the high seas.”

This situation will improve eventually, as K-4 ballistic missiles with a range of about 3,500 kilometres enter service. The missile is currently undergoing development trials, with a test scheduled for mid-December, according to Indian media. The Arihant will be able to carry four of them.
Upadhyaya maintains that a single SSBN is “grossly inadequate to provide all-round deterrence” and that “India requires a minimum of 4-6 SSBNs,” along with a smaller fleet of strategic attack submarines to protect them at sea.

That does not diminish the role that the Arihant is likely to play within the Indian Navy, the former officer said.

“The Arihant serves as very useful platform not only as a national strategic asset in but also providing the Indian Navy, scientists, policy makers and all others [with] training and practice in the arcane disciplines of SSBN operations and maintenance,” Upadhyaya told RT. 

The second vessel of the Arihant class, called Arighat, is currently undergoing trials and should join the Indian Navy in the coming years. Two more submarines could be launched by 2020 and 2022, and will reportedly be able to carry eight K-4 missiles apiece, twice as many as the Arihant. 

The successful deployment of the Arihant is a major step for India, as it joins the tiny club of nations with ballistic missile submarines previously reserved for the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US, Russia, the UK, France and China.


'Soldiers Deprived of Snow Glasses, Boots, Requisite Food'

NEW DELHI: Indian Army troops do not have snow glasses and multi-purpose boots to wear and requisite sanctioned food to eat in high altitude areas in Siachen and Ladakh, thus exposing them to inclement weather causing ailments due to extreme cold conditions, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) has said in a report.

The CAG report on Union Government (Defence Services)-Army said Army troops are also deprived of the authorised daily consumption of food in the high altitude areas, sources said. The report also states the calorie intake of the troops is compromised as high as 82 per cent.

CAG laid the report on Union Government (Defence Services)-Army in the Rajya Sabha but failed to lay it in Lok Sabha. This stopped Comptroller and Auditor General Rajiv Mehrishi from releasing the report.

But sources in Rajya Sabha, who accessed the report, claimed that the audit highlights the condition of Indian Army in high altitude areas.

The shortage in snow goggles is between 62 per cent to 98 per cent exposing soldiers' faces and eyes to extreme weather in high altitude areas. Worse, the troops had to wear old and used multi-purpose boots after the force did not received boots between November 2015 and September 2016.

The situation is very pathetic, said sources adding that the troops who are deployed at high altitude guarding Indian borders are given old versions of face masks, jackets and sleeping bags. "The troops are deprived from the benefits of using improved products," the CAG report stated.

The report also highlight that the lack of research and development by defence laboratories led to continued dependence on import.

Further, for the troops posted in high altitudes, special scales of rations are authorised to meet their daily energy requirements. But substitutes in lieu of scaled items were authorised on cost to cost basis, which resulted in supply of reduced quantity of substitutes.

This compromised the calorie intake of the troops by as high as 82 per cent.

At Leh station the CAG found that special ration items were shown as issued to troops for consumption without their actual receipts.

India Slams Pakistan, Says Footprint of Every Major Act of Terrorism Passes Through This Country

UNITED NATIONS: Hitting out at Pakistan, India has said the footprint of every major act of international terrorism passes through this country where terrorists are trained' in safe havens to take innocent lives.

India's remarks came after Pakistan raised the issue of Jammu and Kashmir and made references to the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill in the UN General Assembly.

"Spirit of cooperation is the crux of the culture of peace. This agenda should not be misused and trivialised for political propaganda. We need to be particularly cautious when the fox is guarding the hen house," First Secretary in India's Permanent Mission to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said on Thursday at the United Nations General Assembly debate on 'Culture of Peace'.

Tripathi was responding to remarks made by Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Munir Akram, who focused a majority of his speech on India and its internal matters, including Jammu and Kashmir, the abrogation of Article 370, the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, the National Register of Citizens and the Supreme Court's Ayodha verdict.

"Attempts by one delegation to misuse this agenda hardly comes as a matter of surprise for those of who have witnessed their many attempts to masquerade as the champions of culture of peace. They besmirch the spirit of cooperation by spinning false narratives for political gains, Tripathi said.

Strongly hitting back at Pakistan, Tripathi said "in reality footprint of every major act of international terrorism passes through this country. Terrorists are trained in their safe havens to take innocent lives. Children and youth are given guns instead of books, women are oppressed and minorities are persecuted."

She said "virulent terror emanating from this territory” threaten to destabilise peace globally.

"Yet, with pathological obsession this delegation makes veiled baseless allegations on internal situations of other countries," she said.

Asserting that India's position on such allegations is well known, Tripathi said it firmly rejects these baseless allegations.

"The international community has not paid attention to such deceitful propaganda for coveting territory. We are confident that this would be the case in future as well."

US SCAN: Indian Arjun MK-1A MBT Ready To Go Into Production

Demonstration of MK-II at DefExpo. The MK-1A is a MK-II minus the missile firing capability

The Arjun Mk.1A, a 68-ton indigenously designed main battle tank, is declared ready for production and to be inducted in the Indian army. It will be displayed at the 11th biennial edition of DefExpo India 2020 scheduled to be held in the Uttar Pradesh capital of Lucknow in February, Indian Defence Update writes.

The Indian Armoured Corps has cleared the tank after successful completion of the final integration tests conducted earlier in 2019 in the western sector of Rajasthan, Indian Defence Update reports. Arjun Mk.1A is an improved variant of Arjun Mk.1, whose two regiments (124 tanks) are currently in service.

Scientists of Chennai-based Combat Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (CVRDE), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), are the architects of this improved version of Arjun, and the Heavy Vehicles Factory (HVF) in Avadi is soon expected to start production after receiving the order.

Officials said 72 improvements were made to Arjun MBT Mk.1, of which 14 were major upgrades that were specifically requested by the army and led to the Mk.1A version. Under firepower segment, four upgrades have been made: an improved Gunner’s Main Sight (GMS) integrated with Automatic Target Tracking (ATT) has been fitted, which helps the crew to track moving target automatically making it easy for the gunner to fire even when the tank is on the move. The Commander’s Panoramic Sight (CPS Mk II) has been integrated with Thermal Imager that enables the commander to effectively conduct surveillance both in day and night through eye-safe Laser Range Finder with an advanced Hunter Killer Capability.

Besides, additional varieties of ammunition were incorporated to enhance the lethality of the enemy battle tank. Other than conventional Fin Stabilised Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot (FSAPDS) and High Explosive Squash Head (HESH) ammunition, Thermo Baric (TB) and Penetration Cum Blast (PCB) ammunition have been developed. A Containerised Ammunition Bin with Individual Shutter (CABIS) that gives crew enhanced protection from inadvertent burning of ammunition stored in the ready round bin. The hot gases generated due to ammunition burning is vented out by blow-off panels from the roof of the turret, thus saving the crew.

Lastly, the vehicle was upgraded with a Remote Controlled Weapon Station that provides the loader with the capability of engaging ground targets and aerial targets from the protective envelope of the tank armour. It also provides an additional capability to fight in an urban area called Hatch-closed firing.

The tank will have a crew of four — commander, gunner, loader and driver. The Explosive Reactive Armour (ERA) panels are provided for effective protection against the ever-evolving anti-tank threats like shoulder-fired anti-tank grenades and missiles. These panels have been mounted along the frontal arc of the hull and the turret. Track Width Mine Plough (TWMP) is a significant addition which provides the capability for the battle tank to cross minefields with ease as the plough mounted to the front of the vehicle creates a mine-free path by ploughing through mines and throwing them to the sides of the tank.

Besides, Arjun Mk-1A has protection against chemical attacks. A special chemical sensor is mounted to detect the presence of harmful toxic chemicals in the atmosphere around the tank. The sensor detects the harmful chemicals, triggers an alarm and the Nuclear Chemical warfare system increases the pressure in the tank compartment to a little higher than in the atmosphere thus preventing toxic air from entering the tank. The tank crew get air through a particulate filter for their survival.

Other new upgrades include Laser Warning and Counter Measure System that protects the crew by creating a smokescreen between itself and the enemy and Anti Infra-Red / Anti Thermal Imaging paints that reduce the signature of the tank when viewed using an IR/TI camera or goggles making the tank difficult to be detected by enemies. The Roof Mounted Driver’s Seat protects the driver from shocks and enhances driving comfort.

To counter added weight, an Advanced Running Gear System has been developed where the hydro-pneumatic suspension system was completely redesigned to enhance agility of the Arjun MBT Mk.1A. Tweaking the final drive also ensured the required agility of the tank.

Meanwhile, an Advanced Land Navigation System is added to provide enhanced navigation capability of the tank in desert terrains during war. It provides accurate information of where the tanks is using either Inertial Navigation or GPS or both and where the tank needs to go in the absence of any signage in the war theatre.

An un-cooled Night Vision camera for driver has also been provided. The earlier Image Intensifier (obsolete technology) for the tank driver has been replaced with a un-cooled Thermal imager with binocular sights for the driver thus providing him with a capability to travel at reasonable speeds even in pitch-dark conditions.

Insights Into ISRO's Launches And Missions of 2019

India's workhorse PSLV rocket has notched up several world records during the years of its operation, it also has an astounding success rate among medium class LV's of the world

India’s Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has ended the year 2019 with a successful launch of the RISAT-2BR1 satellite. During this PSLV-C 48 mission nine foreign satellites were also launched under a commercial arrangement with New Space India Limited (NSIL). Six of these nine satellites belong to the USA and one each to Israel, Italy and Japan: Israel’s remote sensing Duchifat-3 satellite was built by their student community, while Japan’s QPS-SAR is a radar imaging earth observation satellite, and Italy’s Tyvak-0092 is for search and rescue purposes. There are four multi-mission Lemur satellites from Spire, and the other US satellites include a technology demonstration satellite called Tyvak-0129 and an earth imaging satellite called 1HOPSAT.

This was the 50th flight of the rocket PSLV (Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle). This rocket has played a pivotal role in India’s space program over the years. Although this rocket has been chiefly designed for putting less than two tons of payload into Low Earth Orbit (LEO), ISRO has been very innovative with it and has even used this vehicle to successfully launch India’s first moon mission (2008) and Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM 2013).

ISRO has provided some interesting statistics with regards to this launcher, which has been used for all of ISRO’s commercial launches so far.To date, this versatile launcher has lifted off 52.7 tonnes into space, of which 17% belongs to customer satellites.


The year 2019 had brought many positives for India’s overall space agenda. The second mission to moon undertaken by ISRO, Chandrayaan-2, for example, attracted major global attention. Unfortunately, this mission was ‘so near yet so far’. The mission was partially successful, with ISRO having correctly established the orbiter in the vicinity of moon and the orbiter is expected to provide valuable data inputs for next seven years. However, the lander-rover system was not able to achieve a soft landing as planned. The lander was hardly 2.1 km away from the moon’s surface when the system malfunctioned. Now, ISRO is planning to repeat the mission, possibly around November 2020. Definitely there have been lot of lessons learnt for ISRO, from this partially successful mission.

India’s ASAT Test

Another important ‘statement’ mission done by India in March 2019 was the success of an anti-satellite (ASAT) test, which was actually a part of India’s missile program and not its space agency ISRO. The only role played by ISRO was that of making available a ‘target’ for conducting this test.

For the ASAT test, a target satellite called Microsat-R was launched in January 2019. This satellite was successfully injected into the intended orbit of 274 km. The reason behind making this satellite available in such a low orbit was to ensure that most of the debris created during the ASAT test would eventually enter the earth’s atmosphere and get burned off.

ISRO’s Radar Capabilities

The RISAT-2BR1 satellite launched by ISRO on 11 December 2019 is the fourth radar satellite launched by ISRO so far. Such radar satellites could be categorised as dual-purpose satellites, being essentially remote sensing satellites with major surveillance utility. For many years ISRO’s focus was towards the development of optical sensors for their various remote sensing (earth observation) satellites. However, these sensors have limitations and are less effective during bad weather, and for collecting information with typical terrain and topographic features. India’s geographical boundaries with the neighbouring states have features like seas, deserts, snow clad peaks and thickly vegetated mountain ranges. Obviously, getting correct information from these areas, especially during night-time, was a challenge. Hence, ISRO started developing SAR (Synthetic Aperture Radar) technology. 

The impetus to acquire radar satellites began unfortunately, in November 2008, when India experienced one of the most major terror attacks in its history. India’s financial capital Mumbai witnessed 12 coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting for four days and killing more than 160 people. Because of security challenges, an immediate need for reconnaissance satellites was felt, and India imported the SAR sensor from Israel. With this the first radar satellite was launched during 2009. The table below provides the details about India’s radar satellite inventory.

Name of Satellite Launch date Location Weight Comments
20 Apr 2009
434 km at inclination of 41 degree
300 kg
SAR from Israel
26 Apr 2012
536 km, inclination of 97.5 degrees
1,858 kg (including 950 kg of SAR payload mass)
Indian SAR
22 May 2019
556 km at an inclination of 37 degree
615 kg
Indian SAR
11 Dec 2019
576 km at an inclination of 37 degree
628 kg
Indian SAR
Was planned for Dec 2019

All these satellites are very high-resolution satellites and have a design life of five years. There was some controversy with respect to RISAT-1, when there emerged some reports that around September 2016, possibly owing to debris, this satellite had gone dead. However, ISRO never confirmed these reports and declared that the satellite had become dysfunctional. With the recent launch, now India two operational satellites RISAT-2B and RISAT-2BR1. However, a lot of gaps in intelligence gathering still exist owing to the revisit rate, hence there is a need for India to undertake other two proposed launches at the earliest. 

Other Launches of 2019

Earlier in November 2019, ISRO successfully launched its cartographic satellite called CARTOSAT-3. Along with this, 13 commercial nano-satellites were also launched. Like RISAT, CARTOSAT is also an important category of satellites developed by ISRO for strategic utility. These satellites have sub-meter resolution. CARTOSAT-3 satellite is a third-generation satellite with a very high-resolution imaging capability (around 30 cm). The first of this series, CARTOSAT-1, was launched in 2005 and subsequently, seven satellites have been launched in the CARTOSAT-2 series.

On April 1 2019, ISRO launched a satellite called EMISAT which is meant for electromagnetic spectrum measurements. This satellite also has defence utility and could help detecting and gathering electronic intelligence from enemy radars across the borders, as it circles the globe roughly from pole to pole every 90 minutes. Apart from this satellites, 28 nano-satellites were also launched for various customers. Approximately a year back during Nov 2018, Hyper-Spectral Imaging Satellite for Earth observation was launched by ISRO which is known to have a defence utility. This launch had also carried 30 satellites for various customers.

All in all, ISRO’s satellite launches during last one-year period demonstrates ISRO’s potential towards strengthening India’s strategic capabilities. In addition, they have also undertaken many small satellites launches for various global customers. All this essentially indicates the maturing of ISRO into an agency which can successfully conduct conventional space missions, deep space missions, strategic missions and commercial missions.

'World Ignores Pakistan's Anti-India Propaganda'

United Nations: The international community has ignored the anti-India propaganda by Pakistan, the source of "virulent terror", an Indian diplomat has said.

Reacting to Pakistan''s statements against India during a General Assembly debate on Culture of Peace on Thursday, Paulomi Tripathi, a First Secretary in India''s Mission, said: "The international community has not paid attention to such deceitful propaganda for coveting territory. We are confident that this would be the case in future as well."

Tripathi did not mention Pakistan by name, but it was clear that she was referring to it coming after its attacks on India at the meeting.

"Virulent terror emanating from this territory threaten to destabilise peace globally. Yet, with pathological obsession this delegation makes veiled baseless allegations on internal situations of other countries," she said.

Moreover, she said, women are oppressed and minorities are persecuted there.

Likening Pakistan''s concern for human rights and the culture of peace to a fox guarding a hen house, Tripathi said that it "hardly comes as a matter of surprise for those who have witnessed their many attempts to masquerade as the champions of culture of peace. They besmirch the spirit of cooperation by spinning false narratives for political gains".

She said that "education and awareness generation" play a key roles in the process of moving from a culture of war to a culture of peace by transforming individual behaviour and institutional practices.

But in Pakistan "children and youth are given guns instead of books", the First Secretary added said.

Of the 193 UN members, only three -- Malaysia, Turkey, China -- have raised the Kashmir issue during the high-level meeting in September, and Beijing has even tempered it with a reference to bilateral agreements in solving the problem -- a reference to the Shimla Agreement that makes disputes bilateral according to India.

Since then, no other country has picked up Pakistan''s line on Kashmir and its allegations of human right abuses in India, which its diplomats slip into as many discussions as possible regardless of the subject.

Meeting With Trump Likely On Sidelines of Upcoming 2+2 For Rajnath Singh, S Jaishankar

The White House meeting, which could become one of the highlights of the trip, is still in the works and officials on both sides were non-committal about it, but, significantly, did not deny it.

A possible White House meeting with President Donald Trump, a key defence agreement, big-time arms deals and some blunt conversations about trade and Kashmir await defence minister Rajnath Singh and foreign minister S Jaishankar, when they meet their American counterparts for the second 2+2 ministerial next week.

The White House meeting, which could become one of the highlights of the trip, is still in the works and officials on both sides were non-committal about it, but, significantly, did not deny it.

“Working on it,” said one of them, in the clearest response yet.

They still have a few days to nail it.

But it has been argued that a meeting with Trump would be a deserving reciprocal gesture from the US to Prime Minister Narendra Modi meeting Mike Pompeo and then US defence secretary James Mattis when they visited New Delhi for the inaugural meeting of 2+2 in September 2018.

A White House meeting, if it comes through, will be a notable first for Indian ministers, in a rare break from protocol. Previous encounters between American presidents and Indian ministers were “drop-ins” with the president paying them an unscheduled or unannounced but pre-arranged visit.

Former president George W Bush had casually dropped in on a White House meeting in 2003, for instance, between the then national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and visiting Union minister for home LK Advani. The president had stayed for 30 of the 38 minutes Rice and Advani met, according to a report.

No White House meeting for Indian ministers and officials, such the national security adviser, to meet counterparts that work out of the White House complex other than the prime minister.

As of now, the highlight of the upcoming 2+2 is the signing of a foundational agreement, the Industrial Security Annex. It will allow US defence manufacturers to partner with Indian private-sector companies and share their sensitive and proprietary technologies with them.

“We hope to make progress on another enabling agreement that will support our goal of greater defence industrial cooperation and interoperability, and will discuss key defence deals we hope to finalise in the coming months,” a senior state department official told reporters on Thursday, previewing the upcoming 2+2.

The last of the enabling agreements, also called foundational, the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement, which will let India use US-produced Geo-Spatial maps, is expected to be finalised and signed by next spring, according to available indication.

It would wrap up the quarter — Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) was signed in 2016, Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement in 2018, ISA next week. Together they will enhance the ability of the Indian and US militaries to work together.

Discussions are also expected on India’s arms purchase list. Such as maritime helicopters called “Romeos” — MH 60R Seahawks, describes by manufacturer Lockheed Martin as “the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter” that can operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.

India also wants 10 more of Boeing’s P-8 anti-submarine, anti-surface, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

And there is the long-standing offer of F-21s, a version of F-16s that has been rejigged for the Indian Air Force and for India to manufacture and export. Lockheed Martin, its manufacturer, has tied up with TATA, to bid for a 110-aircraft order that India is shopping for to replace its ageing MiG-21s.

The two sides also plan to further their cooperation on space and broaden people to people ties, which has been called the “secret weapon” propelling relations between the two countries.

It will be in an acknowledgement of the four million members of the Indian diaspora, America’s most prosperous and well-educated community, and the 200,000 Indian students in US colleges, who contribute an estimated $7 billion to the American economy.

Imran Khan Gets Trolled After He Tweets About The Passing of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was brutally trolled after commenting on the passing of CAB by Indian Parliament. Users reminded him that as a head of a nation with questionable human rights record, he should be the last person sermonising on human rights issues

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan was brutally trolled by many Twitter users after he tweeted about the passing of the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. He said that Pakistan strongly condemns its passing.

Twitterati reminded the Pakistani PM of ill treatment meted out to Hindus, Balochis, Sindhis, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmadiyya, Shias and Imran's own Pashtun clan inside Pakistan

New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan attracted a lot of attention from trollers after he took to Twitter to talk about the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill after it was passed by both the houses of India's parliament. Khan had, on Twitter, said that Pakistan strongly condemns the Indian Lok Sabha’s Citizenship legislation. He also said that it violates all norms of International Human rights laws and bilateral agreements with Pakistan. The post that was made on December 10 gathered a lot of traffic with 10.2K retweets and 31.6K likes. 

However, his comment on Indian proceedings did not go well with Twitter users. One user, while replying to Khan’s tweet, wrote: "In fact as a "homeland created for Muslims" you should offer refuge to all persecuted Muslims of the Indian subcontinent. Show India you can do it too!" Another user mocked Khan for his comment and wrote: "Look who's talking. Please don't talk about human rights because it doesn't suit you." Further, another comment read, "Better treat everyone equally in your country. Had you done it this would not be necessary.” A user, while taking a dig at the Pakistan government, remarked, "We strongly strongly, strongly condemn the Pakistani government for its inhumane treatment of Hindus, Balochis, Sindhis, Sikhs, Christians, Ahmaddiyas, Shias and your own Pashtun clan."

Google Reveals Abhinandan Varthaman Was The Most Trending Personality of 2019 In India

Google has released its year-end data that shows various top trends that caught the interest of netizens this year

While this year's Google trend's theme was the celebration of 'heroes' outside the silver screen, it's not surprising to see the list of top 10 searched personalities on Google 2019 being led by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force.

With 2019's Google trends' theme being the celebration of 'heroes' outside the silver screen, it was not surprising to see the list of top 10 searched personalities on Google 2019 being led by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force.

Varthaman became a household name during the 2019 Indo-Pakistan standoff earlier in the year when his aircraft was shot down in Pakistan and he was held captive for nearly 60 hours before being released to India. From February 24th to March 2, 2019 Varthaman was the most searched person on Google. Varthaman was conferred the Vir Chakra gallantry award in August 2019, in an honour to his heroic deeds.

Second on the list was veteran Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshkar, who was highly searched from November 10 to 16, when the singer had fallen severely ill and had to be hospitalised. However, the singer has also trended much following the rising fame of Ranu Mondal, who has always talked about looking up to Mangeshkar in her singing pursuit. Incidentally, Mondal also made it to the list.

The third spot was taken by former Indian cricketer Yuvraj Singh, who was one of the top searches in June, following the cricketer's retirement from international cricket on June 10, 2019.

Educationist Anand Kumar, whose life has influenced the movie Super 30, managed the fourth spot. Kumar trended the most in July, which was the month of the release of the Bollywood blockbuster based on Kumar's life featuring Hrithik Roshan in the lead role.

The fifth most searched person in 2019 was Bollywood actor Vicky Kaushal, who became an overnight star in January when his Bollywood blockbuster Uri, which recounted the 2015 surgical strike of India on Pakistan, was became a major success. 'How's the josh? High' became a tagline for many, including politicians.

Sixth on the list was Indian cricket man Rishabh Pant, who became one of the top searches during July when he was handed his World Cup debut cap for India, against England.

Seventh spot on the list has been grabbed by Internet sensation Ranu Mondal, who made headlines during late August and early September after her singing video in a railway station as a destitute went viral, bringing her instant fame. She went on to make her recording debut with music director Himesh Reshamia in the song, 'Teri Meri' and since then has been viral on the internet for some reasons pleasant or unpleasant.

On number eight was surprisingly Bollywood newbie Tara Sutaria, who made her debut in Student of the Year 2 with another fresh face, Ananya Pandey and Tiger Shroff became the top search in early May with the release of her film on May 10.

Ninth on the list of top searches was Big Boss 13 candidate Siddharth Sukhla, who has been trending since early November. Siddharth has been creating quite a buzz with his controversial persona in the Big Boss house, proving to be quite an entertainment for the viewers.

And finally, Bollywood actor Koena Mitra brought up the rear, becoming the tenth most searched person in 2019, thanks to Big Boss 13. Koena's politically charged remarks against AIMIM president Asaduddin Owaisi, who had once tweeted, "I want my Masjid back," to which the actress wrote "#IdiotOwaisi I want our 40,000 temples back," caused her to trend for days.

Incidentally, no politicians were part of the list of most searched persons with most people only Googling film stars, cricketers and sometimes musicians.

Russia's Only Aircraft Carrier On Fire In Port: News Agencies

MOSCOW: A fire broke out Thursday on Russia's only aircraft carrier as it underwent repairs in an Artic shipyard, Russian news agencies said, with at least one worker reported missing.

The Admiral Kuznetsov has been undergoing repairs for more than two years in Murmansk and suffered previous damage in October 2018 when a crane crashed onto its deck.

State news agency RIA Novosti quoted a source in the Zvezdochka shipyard as saying the fire broke out during welding operations.

More than 400 people were on board when the fire erupted, state news agency TASS quoted a Zvezdochka spokesman as saying. News agency Interfax reported that the fire had spread over an area of about 600 square metres (6,500 square feet).

The Admiral Kuznetsov -- launched in 1985 and the flagship of the Russian navy -- has been undergoing its first major repairs since 1997.

The repairs were expected to be completed by the end of 2020, with the warship rejoining the navy in 2021.

The vessel was deployed to the Mediterranean in 2016 and early 2017 to strike targets in Syria and help Moscow ally President Bashar al-Assad recapture rebel-held areas in the war-torn country.

The ship headed a naval group off the Syrian coast, with fighters from the carrier hitting more than 1,200 targets during its mission.

It also stopped off the coast of Libya in January 2017 and took on board military strongman Khalifa Haftar, who Russia has reportedly backed in the country's long-running civil conflict.

The ship suffered several mishaps during the mission, including the crash of a Sukhoi fighter jet into the sea after a malfunction as it tried to land on the carrier.

The repairs and upgrades -- with a reported cost of up to 62 Billion Roubles ($1 billion/880 million euros) -- were to focus on the ship's power plant and on-board electronic systems.

Last year's collapse of the crane on the ship's deck, which killed one worker and caused major damage, raised concerns the work would be delayed and the carrier out of commission beyond the 2021 deadline.

Russia's navy has been battling problems with state financing, ageing shipyards, and delays in fulfilling orders for new ships.

In the last six years, three fires have been reported on submarines under repair.

The Admiral Kuznetsov was meant to be the first of a new fleet of Soviet aircraft carriers but the Russian navy has struggled with a massive drop in funding since the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union.

The USSR had five aircraft carriers at the height of its power.

Indian, Russian Navies Conducting Joint Tri-Services Exercise

Panaji: A Tri-services exercise being conducted jointly by the Indian and Russian navies off Goa, will further strengthen relations between the two armed forces and enable them to undertake joint operations in a cohesive manner to address common challenges, a press statement issued by the two navies said on Friday.

Russian Federation Navy ships Yaroslav Mudny, Viktor Konetsky and Elyna along with Indian Navy vessels INS Aditya, INS Tarkash, MiG-29K fighter aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft and ship-borne helicopters are participating in the 10-day tri-services exercise which kicked off in Goa on December 10.

"Indian Navy and the Russian Navy share strong bonds of military and technical co-operation. The Baltic fleet with its headquarters in Kalinigrad region, has illustrious partnership with the Indian Navy.

"The Western Fleet which is the sword arm of the Indian Navy comprises several cutting edge warships of Russian origin built at the Baltic shipyard ''Yantar''," said the joint statement issued by Vladimir Vorobe, chief-of-staff, Russian Federation Navy and Indian Flag Officer Commanding Goa Naval Area, Rear Admiral Philipose G Pynumootil.

"Exercise Indra was initiated in 2003, with an aim to enhance interoperability between Indian and Russian navies. India and Russia have shared long standing co-operation in defence equipment, training of personnel, transfer of defence technology and equipment spares.

"It is only thus natural that this military co-operation between the two nations evolves to the next level. This year''s exercise is the second iteration of Exercise Indra, extended to tri-services and the Indian Armed Forces are looking forward to operating with our Russian counterparts over land, in air and at sea," the statement said, adding that Exercise Indra would further "strengthen relations between the armed forces and enable undertaking joint operations in a cohesive manner to address common challenges".

The exercise has been divided into the harbour and the sea phase.

"The harbour phase of the exercise commenced on December 10, includes formal calls, planning conferences, professional interactions and sports events. The sea phase of the exercise will be held off Goa from December 16-19, in which INS Aditya, INS Tarkash, MiG29K fighter aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft and ship-borne helicopters would be participating from the Indian Navy," the statement added.

The Ghatak platoon of the Army, Mi 17, Su-30s and Jaguars of the IAF, along with Russian Marine Infantry, are also participating in the exercise.

103rd Warship Built And Delivered By GRSE

New Delhi: Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers Ltd., (GRSE), a leading warship building company and Miniratna Category 1 company under the administrative control of the Ministry of Defence delivered IN LCU L-57 (Yard 2098), seventh in the series of eight such vessels to the Indian Navy. The ship is the 103rd Warship built and delivered by GRSE so far since its inception in 1960.

The Protocol of delivery and acceptance was signed between Rear Admiral VK Saxena, IN (Retd.), Chairman & Managing Director, GRSE and Commanding Officer of the vessel, Lt. Commander V Harshvardhan, in the presence of Commodore DK Murali,CSO (Tech), HQANC, Chairman D-448, Shri S S Dogra, Director (Finance), Cmde. Sanjeev Nayyar, IN (Retd), Director (Shipbuilding) and Cmde.P R Hari, Director (Personnel) and other Senior Officials of GRSE and Indian Navy.

LCU Mk-IV ship is an Amphibious Ship with its Primary Role being Transportation and Deployment of Main Battle Tanks, Armoured Vehicles, Troops and Equipment from Ship to Shore. These Ships based at the Andaman and Nicobar Command can be deployed for Multi-Role Activities like Beaching Operations, Search and Rescue, Disaster Relief Operations, Supply, and Replenishment and Evacuation from distant islands.

The entire design of the LCU Mark IV ships has been developed in-house by GRSE as per requirements specified by the Indian Navy. The LCU is 62.8 m in length and 11 m wide and has a displacement of 830 T with a low draught of 1.7 m. It can achieve a speed of 15 knots. The LCU is designed to accommodate 216 personnel and is equipped with Two Indigenous CRN 91 Guns to provide Artillery Fire support during landing operations. The ship is fitted with State-of-the-Art Equipment and Advanced Systems like the Integrated Bridge System (IBS) and the Integrated Platform Management System (IPMS). In line with the Govt. of India’s Make In India Initiative towards Self Reliance & Indigenisation efforts, the LCU Mark IV Class of Ships are fitted with close to 90% indigenous equipment fit.

The First Ship of the Mark IV LCU Vessels IN LCU L-51 was commissioned into Indian Navy during 2016.

With the Handing Over of IN LCU L-57, GRSE has once again demonstrated its’ Commitment to Strengthen the Maritime Security of the Nation. The shipyard has delivered 05 warships to Indian Navy in Last 10 months (Mar 2019- Dec 2019).

GRSE currently has a strong order book position of around Rs 27, 400 crore under which there are a total of 19 warships at various stages of construction. The shipyard has been recently awarded with the ICC PSE Excellence Award (2017-18) for “Operational Performance Excellence” and 16th National Award for “Excellence in Cost Management” in the category of Medium Public Sector Manufacturing Companies. Presently, the company has Six Projects that are under way viz., Five Projects of the Indian Navy and One of the Indian Coast Guard. GRSE is aggressively bidding for the new Request for Proposals (RFP) that have been issued by Ministry of Defence.

GRSE continues to sail on a growth trajectory with increased thrust on export of warships, incorporation of latest technologies (Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics) in various areas of operations to improve internal efficiencies & profit margins.

Singapore Navy Liaison Joins IFC-IOR

The IFC-IOR was established keeping in mind the significance of the Indian Ocean to world trade and security

NEW DELHI: Singapore joined the Indian initiative to strengthen the maritime domain awareness in the Indian Ocean Region by agreeing to send its officer to the Information Fusion Centre-Indian Ocean Region (IFC-IOR), said an officer aware of the development.

The IFC-IOR was established keeping in mind the significance of the Indian Ocean to world trade and security. Seventy-five per cent of the world’s maritime trade and 50 per cent of global oil pass through the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) 75.

However, the region is troubled by maritime terrorism, piracy, human and contraband trafficking, illegal and unregulated fishing, arms running and poaching.

India aims to meet these challenges with enhanced situational awareness which will enable security agencies to function effectively and help disseminate important information to ally countries.

IFC-IOR was inaugurated in December 2018 and is tasked to collate, fuse and disseminate intelligence on ‘White Shipping’ in the Indian Ocean.

It aims to base 40 international liaison officers.India has signed information exchange agreement with 22 countries and one multinational construct — the Virtual Regional Maritime Traffic Centre which facilitates 30 other countries to create a virtual network for exchange of information.

Punjab Governor VPS Badnore Takes Sortie In Sukhoi Fighter Aircraft At Halwara

Governor VPS Badnore took a sortie in a Su-30MKI fighter aircraft at the Halwara air base in Punjab.

The aircraft was piloted by Group Captain NK Vatsya, the commanding officer of 220 Squadron.

The governor took the 30-minute sortie on Monday.

“Had an amazing and invigorating experience flying a sortie on Sukhoi-30MKI. A twin jet multi-role jet fighter developed by Russia and upgraded by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force,” Badnore tweeted.

Can China Turn Its Old Planes Into Stealth Fighters?

Key Point: A bold, but dubious plan. Beijing is trying to save money by trying to find a way to remake ageing fighter jets. China is trying to devise ways to make its non-stealthy aircraft radar resistant

by Zachary Keck

This week, the Hong Kong–based South China Morning Post reported that China is working on experimental technologies to make even its older aircraft appear stealthy to most radar systems. Citing scientists working on the project, the SCMP said, “The technology involves the use of a ‘meta-material’, a fabricated layer comprising microscopic structures similar to integrated circuits. The meta-material can alter the way radio waves bounce off its surface to create a ghost image or minimise echo on a radar, helping hide the aircraft in flight with greater efficiency.”

Apparently, the meta-material was developed at the State Key Laboratory of Millimetre Waves in Southeast University, and is currently being tested in Shenyang, in Liaoning Province. The SCMP wasn’t able to get confirmation on which aircraft the meta-material is being tested on, but noted that the local Shenyang Aircraft Corporation makes the J-11 and the J-15. Both of these fighter jets lack stealth capabilities.

The meta-material is not the only kind of radar tricking technique that the team at State Key Laboratory is engaged in. The SCMP went on to report that the team earlier discussed a “ghost illusion device.” The ghost illusion device, according to the team working on it, “could make parts of the plane appear on radar as plastic, instead of metal, or show three planes instead of one.”

In theory, being able to convert non-stealthy aircraft into stealthy jets would be an incredible boon for Chinese air power. As the article notes, China currently only has about twenty J-20 stealth fighters, compared to 1,500 other kinds of combat aircraft. But as the SCMP itself has already reported, even the J-20 might not be stealthy as China has claimed. According to a February report, “China rushed its first advanced stealth fighter jet into service ahead of schedule last year, using stopgap engines, in the face of rising security challenges in the region.” Specifically, the W-15 engine that was supposed to power the J-20 exploded during trial flights. Beijing has been unable to fix this issue, and therefore its initial J-20s are using WS-10B engines. These are a modified version of the engines that China’s J-10 and J-11 fighters use. The WS-10B’s thrust-to-weight ratio is not able to power the J-20 to supersonic speeds without the use of afterburners, which makes the jet unstealthy at those speeds.

This all points to another issue with the meta-material fix for China’s non-stealthy planes. Namely, that stealth comes from a number of different features on planes. As one of the earliest developers of stealth technology put it, the four most important features of stealth are “shape, shape, shape and materials.” And, as Wired magazine has noted, other stealth components include “chemicals to eliminate telltale contrails; sophisticated, untraceable sensors and radios; specially designed, hard-to-detect engine inlets; radar-cancelling paint; and cooling systems for reducing a plane's heat signature.” Of those materials, meta-material would seem to be mimicking, to some extent, the effect of Radar-Absorbing Material (RAM). But, it’s unclear if meta-material could cover up some of the other non-stealth features. For instance, if the older planes are still using inferior engines, could meta-material still conceal their heat signature? Han Yiping, the director of applied physics at Xidian University, doubts it, telling the SCMP that you would have to sacrifice performance to achieve sufficient reliability.

Han also noted other shortcomings of meta-material. First, according to Han, presently meta-material is only effective against certain radio bandwidths, although she doesn’t specify which ones. She also said that meta-materials are extremely hard to produce on a mass level, although the SCMP claimed that “recent Chinese reports suggested that they were starting to develop the mass use of meta-materials on the mainland.” Han’s far from the only Chinese scientist who is sceptical of the State Key Laboratory team’s claims. An unnamed researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences was also quoted as saying that, in the scientific community, “The consensus is that their product still has a lot of room for improvement.”

China is not the only country working on meta-material. As the Financial Times has noted, “Meta-materials first captured the public imagination in 2006, when John Pendry of Imperial College published two papers showing how to create a Harry Potter-style invisibility cloak using the specially engineered materials.” Since then, many companies have been developing the technology for commercial purposes. These include making satellite antennas and sensors lighter and more portable. For instance, one company, Kymeta, produces antennas that enable transportation vehicles like cars, trains and yachts to connect to the internet. Other companies are exploring ways to improve solar panels and radars to integrate drones, according to the FT article.

Of course, other militaries are also working with the technology, including the U.S. Army, which wants to create “wearable camouflage with a chameleon-like ability to change according to the background.” This may use meta-materials, but it’s unclear how realistic any of this really is.