Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Russia's Igla Wins $1.5Bln Tender For Air Defence Systems In India

Traditionally Russia is ranked among world's leading manufacturers of air defence weapons. Here is another proof of this fact. The Verba is newest man-portable air defence missile system

MOSCOW - Russia and its man-portable air defence system Igla won a tender in India to deliver $1.5 billion worth of short-range air defence systems, a source in the cooperation industry told Sputnik on Tuesday.

"Yes, our Igla won [the tender]," the source confirmed.

There have been no comments from the Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) on this issue so far.

The service, however, confirmed that Moscow and New-Delhi had also signed a package of contracts that included the supply and manufacture of Russian Project 11356 frigates in India.
Image Courtesy: Reuters

The FSMTC did not specify the parameters of the contracts, however, according to unofficial data, the contract for the supply of two ready-made ships is about $950 million.

The statement was made on Monday, citing its sources, that Russian state arms exporter Rosoboronexport had emerged as the lowest bidder in the Indian tender to procure a batch of short-range air defence systems. Swedish manufacturer SAAB and French MBDA were other contenders for the deal.

Prior to that, in early October, Russia and India signed a historic agreement on the supplies of S-400 anti-aircraft systems worth over $5 billion.

Igla is a man-portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile defence system manufactured by research and production corporation Konstruktorskoye Byuro Mashynostroyeniya (KBM). The system is intended to target various types approaching and receding aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles round the clock when they are visually observed against clutter background and in infrared countermeasure environment.


Indian Army Will Have To Wait Some More, Fresh RfP To Be Issued For Replacement of Outdated INSAS By Close-Quarter Carbines

A Sig Sauer MCX SBR lightweight Close Quarter Battle (CQB) assault rifle will provide soldiers with increased firepower in the battlefield

Despite efforts of the Indian Army to fast-track the procurement of small arms, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering to issue a fresh request for proposal (RfP) for the procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB), a deal worth $553.33 mn.

The procurement of 93,895 CQB for the Indian Army had run into rough weather.

Despite efforts of the Indian Army to fast track the procurement of small arms, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering to issue a fresh request for proposal (RfP) for the procurement of 93,895 close-quarter-battle carbines (CQB), a deal worth $553.33 mn.

The Indian Army which has been trying for long time to replace age-old ‘INSAS’ rifles which has reliability issues, has so far failed in finding the right replacement either from foreign OEMs or from the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB).

After receiving a series of complaints against Caracal of the UAE which was shortlisted as the lowest bidders for the CQBs, from the other bidders including French Company Thales and S&T Motiv of South Korea, the MoD is mulling on cancelling the previous RfP.

As has been reported earlier by FE, a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier has been receiving complaints regarding non compliance of Caracal of UAE.

The UAE Company has failed to submit its response as per the format of the commercial bid and the amount of Rs 70 crore was not reflected in the bid format which is used for determination of L1 vendor.

Concerns have also been expressed to the nine member committee about the ability of Caracal to supply 96,000 weapons within a period of 12 months as required under the RfP.

Officials confirmed that the UAE based company started its commercial production in 2014 and till date does not have a lot of orders to indicate that it has the capacity to produce 93,895 CQBs.

Adding, “This, in turn will also impact the life cycle of the weapon as the company has no previous data to establish the reliability of the CQB.”

As has been reported earlier, the procurement of 93,895 CQB for the Indian Army had run into rough weather, when after stiff evaluations two companies — Caracal of the UAE and S&T Motiv of South Korea —had been declared non-compliant by a nine-member committee headed by an Army brigadier.

This left Sig Sauer of the US, Kanpur-based MKU with French company Thales in the race.

Caracal of the UAE and Reliance Armaments with S&T Motiv of South Korea were competing for this deal. It may be recalled that the Embassy of South Korea in New Delhi had protested against being declared non compliant in spite of meeting all the requirements laid down in the request for proposal.

The nine member team had gone to facilities of the competing companies before being invited for the extensive trials in India for testing with the Indian ammunition and in different terrains and temperature.

Representatives of the S&T Motiv, producers of small arms for the last four decades were part of the delegation when South Korean President Moon Jae-in had visited India in July. The company had offered to transfer technology to produce the CQBs under Make in India initiative when the defence minister of that country had visited close on the heels of President Moon Jae-in.


India's Indigenous Nuclear Submarine Creates Flutter In Pakistan


by Dr Ankit Srivastava

India’s first domestically built nuclear-powered submarine Arihant completed a successful month-long “deterrence patrol” recently giving New Delhi the capability to fire nuclear weapons from land, air and sea.

During the inauguration, Prime Minister Modi said, “Amid an increase in the number of nuclear weapons in our surroundings, a credible nuclear deterrence is extremely important for our country’s security. Arihant is an open warning for the country’s enemies, for the foes of peace: don’t try any misadventure against India.”

Commissioned way back in 2016, Arihant now accomplishes India’s goal of having the capacity to deliver nuclear warheads with aircraft, missiles and submarines. It completes India’s nuclear triad by adding maritime strike capability to land and air-based delivery platforms. It had been thirty years in the making and can now be considered a fully functional underwater ballistic missile delivery platform. “In an era such as this, a credible nuclear deterrence is the need of the hour,” Modi said.

The news set a flutter in Pakistan. “The development marks the first actual deployment of ready-to-fire nuclear warheads in South Asia which is a matter of concern not only for the Indian Ocean littoral states but also for the international community at large,” said Pakistan foreign office. But India’s response was already in the coming. Pakistan’s persistent use of bellicose language, continuous mention of Kashmir and the nuclear threat in the same breath, increased frequency of missile tests, aggressive posturing and deployment of terrorists across the border threatened strategic stability in South Asia. It raised serious questions about responsible nuclear stewardship in the terror state worrying India and the international community no end. In March 2017, Pakistan had reported successful testing of the nuclear-capable Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) Babur-3. It forthwith announced attaining ‘Credible Second Strike Capability’. The dirty trick provoked India, forcing its naval forces to measure up with appropriate deterrent measures.

To meet the challenges posed by the latest developments both in the nuclear and conventional realms, India had to strive for nuclear and missile restraint as well as strategic stability. The world is aware of how dangerous India’s neighbourhood is. By its own admission, Pakistan has already achieved this capability in 2017 through Babur-3 missile. China’s fresh N-Submarine proposal is also on the way.

Pakistan has started these all and claims to have got answers to everything. Then what is the problem? Why is it now worried about India’s deployment when it also has second strike capability?

Pakistan believes that placing cruise missiles on conventional submarines alone enables extended patrolling and ensures strategic deterrence. But does it have strategic depth? The world is really worried about the vice-like grip of terrorists in Pakistan. Asia Bibi incident has proved once again government’s capitulation to fundamentalists. This dangerous country could force India to construct more powerful nuclear armed submarines in coming crucial decades.

India’s relations with China are warming in the realms of trade, but ties with Pakistan have nosedived thanks to terrorist incursions across the border. History reveals that India has never ever attacked a country but has always defended itself well. With nuclear-armed China to its north and nuclear-armed Pakistan to its west – both of which slapped wars on India – INS Arihant is truly a “fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail”.


Question All Arms Deals, But For The Right Reasons


Arms Deal, Rafale Controversy

The Rafale controversy has ended up before the Supreme Court, and it is therefore moot to argue whether the country’s top-most court should be weighing in such matters

Arms deals are also notoriously complex, but, fortunately, well documented. Thus, the process followed in deals of various sizes and hues (and with countries and companies) is easily available. This is important because the lack of knowledge itself could result in misunderstandings about a deal.

The Rafale controversy has ended up before the Supreme Court, and it is therefore moot to argue whether the country’s top-most court should be weighing in such matters. It has heard the matter, decided not to get into the pricing issue, and reserved its judgement. And there things stand.

There are two other dimensions to the problem, though, which are about, one, the very nature of such deals (and where there is a need for clarity and informed debate) and, two, the need for both the selection and the post-selection process being transparent and above board. This holds true for all arms purchases, not just the Rafale deal. India needs to get this right. As much as the country would like to (and should) manufacture most of the arms it needs, the fact is that it is currently an importer of arms – one of the biggest in the world – and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The need for transparency in the post-selection process is particularly important, especially in deals where corruption is being alleged. That’s because the arms business is an infamously competitive one, and it isn’t unknown for losing bidders for a deal to indulge in some good old-fashioned mud-slinging. Indeed, in the absence of either a money trail or a beneficiary, it should be ensured that the motivations behind the allegations are above board. All deals can and should be questioned in the interests of the country and fair-play, but they need to be questioned for the right reasons. Otherwise, the country’s already-lengthy process for inducting much needed equipment into the defence forces could be even more delayed. It makes little sense to politicise defence purchases, even less sense to allow commercial rivalry to vitiate such deals.

Arms deals are also notoriously complex, but, fortunately, well documented. Thus, the process followed in deals of various sizes and hues (and with countries and companies) is easily available. This is important because the lack of knowledge itself could result in misunderstandings about a deal. For instance, in the case of Rafale, much has been made of the lack of a sovereign guarantee from France for what is essentially a government to government deal, although several deals, including the recent G2G one between India and Russia for the S-400 missile system have been done without such guarantees. Here, it is the responsibility of all stakeholders to ensure that all pertinent information that can be placed in the public domain, is.


IDN TAKE: Accountability of Indian Netas In National Security


by Brig Arun Bajpai

Neta responsible for Indian debacle and shameful defeat of India in the hands of China in 1962, Indian PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, may have died a broken man in 1964, but Indians in particular and world in general blames Indian Army when the truth is that Indian Army fought this war with great valour despite being ill equipped and out gunned by Chinese troops, fighting on impossible heights under bitter cold with hardly any acclimatisation in summer uniforms and torn boots. It was their valour which forced China to unilaterally withdraw without coming into plains.

Fifty-six years have passed since then, but have our political masters and their advisers the Babus changed their outlook, are they ready to shoulder responsibility and accountability? The answer is firm NO. Then how come these very Neta’s and Babus still decide what Indian AF will get in terms of weapons and equipment to fight the war with not a single Armed Forces representative present in all weapons deal done by the Government in power. This is decided by the Neta’s and Babus, role of the Armed Forces finishes after they have tested and allotted priority to the equipment/weapon to be purchased. It is Neta’s and Babus who select one weapon/equipment out of various tested by the Armed Forces for purchase and deal with the foreign country/firm producing this weapon/equipment directly. This system is so designed that all foreign purchase deals are kept hush hush with these Neta’s and Babus getting their commissions in their Swiss bank accounts with no questions asked. In other words, Armed Forces get their toy and Netas and Babus get their money and all are happy.

All was going hunky dory till 2007. After that arrived Saint Antony as Defence Minister of Congress enjoying a Mr Clean image. In his seven-year rule he ensured that India goes for no major weapon purchase abroad. His good intentions of keeping his clean image would have been fruitful if he had ensured that India starts producing the same weapons indigenously. however, nothing was done. Imagine 7 long years were allowed to go past with Indian Armed Forces acquiring/producing nothing new.

Then in 2014 came the Modi Government. Everybody thought that with this nationalistic Government having come now Ache Din of Indian Armed Forces were just a matter of time. However, 4.5 years of Modi Government have also passed but nothing has changed, rather things have gone worse. In these 4.5 years we have had four defence ministers, with two of them including the current Defence Minister totally green horn with no experience of minister ship at the centre. The third and fourth Defence Ministers were part time. Imagine a portfolio like Defence of the country held by a part time defence minister, that also when we are facing a combined threat of China on our East and Northern Border and Pakistan on our Western Border? This is only possible in India. By having green horn Defence Ministers and part time Defence ministers, Modiji is ensuring that the clueless Babus straddling the Ministry of Defence rule the roost and create chaos. This these Babus have managed to do.

They never got this much leverage earlier and have ensured with their stupid orders from MOD, including fighting cases against war wounded solders disability pensions, cutting down education grants for those children whose fathers have been martyred by fighting for the country , cutting down entitled rations being given to officers in peace time since 1983, opening of all Cantonment Roads and jeopardising security of armed forces personnel specially separated families, cutting down condiment allowance of troops and so many other things that today Indian Armed Forces stand totally demoralised a dangerous thing to happen at this time. India is only country in the world where its Armed Forces are run like any other Government department with its MOD staffed 100% by the civilian Babus. In all other democracies in the world their MOD is staffed 90% with military men who know all about matters military. No green horn minister dare annoys these Babus of MOD since it is, they who guide the defence minister, as it is happening now.by appointing a green horn defence minister like Nirmala Sitharaman, Modi Government has also suffered badly. The current Rafael deal of Modi Government which is government to Government deal with France with no chance of any hanky-panky, has been mired in controversy and ballooned into a scam because it was handled badly by this green horn defence minister.

Today state of affairs in defence and security of the country is such that leave aside Doklam Indian Armed Forces are not capable of fighting even Kargil type of war. Modi Government takes advice from policeman Ajit Dovl who is the current NSA. His three deputy NSAs are also police men. Imagine a country like India with ambitions of becoming a superpower taking external threat assessment and strategic advice from police and not the Armed Forces whose job it is. The Chief of defence staff system was sanctioned in 2003, after detailed study of Kargil War by group of minsters headed by LK Advani to enable Government in power to get military advice from a single window. 

However, 14.5 years have gone past, the Netas of both Congress Government and Modi Government who have not seen any war except may be in Bollywood movies and know all Babus of these governments, apparently do not need any military advice. They are quite happy with policeman Doval playing the role of General General and being de facto Chief of Defence Staff. This is only possible in India. So what wonder if our yearly defence budget is just 1.58% of GDP, even less than 1962 days, while we are facing combined threat of China and Pakistan, Our Air force which is authorised 42 fighter squadrons is down to just 31 fighter sqns, Navy which is authorised 200 ships and 24 submarines are down to 140 Ships and 13 rickety submarines, Army chief is reducing army strength by 1.5 lakh troops because he says he does not have any money. With this state of affairs of Indian Armed Forces, we are hurtling for a major defeat in any regional war. May be Doval Sahib is advising our Netas and Babus that we should not worry because we are a nuclear power. As if when Kargil happened and Pakistan surreptitiously occupied large tract of our territory in Kargil, we were not a nuclear power?

Now the question that arises is that in any defeat tomorrow, who will bear the brunt, the ill equipped and ill paid Armed Forces of India or the Neta’s of India busy in their Kootneeti, Rajneeti, Karj Mafi, Vote Banks and what have you? Needless to say, it will be the Armed Forces. In other developed democracies that is why the Armed Forces are given the first priority because everybody knows if they fail then country fails. However not in India. The uneducated and uncouth Indian Netas feels that armed Forces are like any other force like Home Guards meant to die so why should they bother. Time has come that like any other developed democracy, Indian public now must now take interest in the well being of the country and their Armed Forces instead of leaving it all to our Netas. Is not one 1962 debacle enough? a system must be devised where apart from Armed Forces, Indian Neta’s and Babus must also be made accountable for any military debacle. Why should only Armed Forces be blamed? why not those Neta’s and Babus who are responsible for their Equipment, weapons, clothing and well being?

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

Maldives To Pull Out of ‘One-Sided’ China Trade Deal: Report


Maldives is reportedly planning to pull out of a free trade agreement with China as the island nation moves closer to India.

The Maldives is reportedly planning to pull out of a free trade agreement with China as the island nation moves closer to India and the West after Ibrahim Mohamed Solih won the presidency in a September election.

The trade imbalance between China and the Maldives is “so huge that nobody would think of a free trade agreement between such parties,” Reuters cited Mohamed Nasheed, a former president and now an adviser to Solih, as saying. He separately told the BBC that the trade deal was “very one-sided” and that Chinese investments would be reviewed.

Former president Abdulla Yameen had signed the free trade agreement with China in Beijing in December last year. Later that month his parliament ratified the treaty despite opposition complaints that he had rushed through the 1,000-page document in less than an hour without debate.

Nasheed told Reuters that parliament would not pass legal changes required for the zero tariffs agreement to go into force. More than 99 percent of the $258 million trade between the countries last year consisted of Chinese exports to the Maldives, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said at a Tuesday briefing that the two countries had worked together to reach the “mutually beneficial and win-win” free trade agreement.“An early implementation will benefit both sides. We believe that the Maldives government will make the right choice,” he said.

‘Colossal Blow’

As he took office Saturday, Solih declared that large-scale corruption had drained state coffers and warned that the country had become estranged from the international community. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi attended the inauguration, his first ever visit to the country.

“The treasury has endured a colossal blow owing to reckless mega development projects undertaken purely for political gain,” Solih said, without mentioning China directly.

Underlining the shift away from China’s influence, Solih’s office said Monday that the nation -- a tropical tourist destination southwest of India -- would rejoin Britain’s Commonwealth of Nations. In a veiled reference to restrictions on freedom of speech and the jailing of opposition leaders under Yameen, the statement noted the importance of promoting human rights, freedom of expression and democracy.


Four Hizbul Militants, Jawan Killed In Shopian Encounter


An army soldier looks on during a cordon and search operation for suspected militants in Shuhama on the outskirts of Srinagar on November 5, 2018

SRINAGAR: Four Hizbul Mujahideen militants and an Army jawan belonging to an elite para unit were killed Tuesday in an encounter in Shopian district of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

Two soldiers were also injured in the encounter.

Security forces, acting on a credible input about the presence of militants in Nadigam area of Shopian, launched a cordon and search operation in the early hours of Tuesday, a police spokesman said.

He said as the search operation was going on, the militants hiding in the area opened fire on the search party of security forces.

"The fire was retaliated by security forces, leading to an encounter. In the initial exchange of fire, one Army jawan identified as H C Vijay of 23 Para sustained injuries and was evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment where he succumbed," the spokesman said.

In the ensuing gunbattle, four militants were eliminated and the bodies retrieved from the site of encounter, he said. 

The slain militants have been identified as Abid Nazir Chopan, Basharat Nengroo, Mehraj-ud-Din Najar and Malikzada Inam-ul-Haq, the spokesman said.

"The militants were affiliated with proscribed terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen and were involved in attacks on security establishments and many other civilian atrocities in the area," he added.

The spokesman said incriminating material including huge quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter. Police have registered a case and initiated investigation in the matter.


50 JeM Militants Killed In 2018; Group Crippled


Since the beginning of 2018, J&K police has killed more than 206 terrorists, including around 50 JeM members who were considered to be well-trained to execute high-profile attacks.

With around 50 Jaish-eMuhammad (JeM) militants killed this year, the Jammu&Kashmir police believes this Pakistan-based group is on the back foot in the Valley.

The JeM re-emerged as a big threat over the last year, forcing the police to re-calibrate its strategy. “Their capability has been hugely dented this year, even though they continue to be a major threat,” a senior police official told ET on condition of anonymity.

Among the JeM members killed by armed forces this year were two nephews of the group’s Pakistanbased chief, Maulana Masood Azhar – Talha, son of Azhar’s sister, and Osman, son of Azhar’s brother Ibrahim. Both of them were killed in southern Kashmir.

According to police, Ibrahim was also involved in hijacking of IC-814 Indian Airlines flight in 1999 which had led to the Indian government freeing him, along with two others, in exchange for passengers on the flight.

“We have managed to kill top leaders of JeM who had potential to plan and execute high-profile attacks. Mufti Waqas, Yasir, Osman, Ali Bhai were all very important targets, because of whom we were worried for the whole year,” said the police official.

Since the beginning of 2018, J&K police has killed more than 206 militants, including around 50 JeM members who were considered to be well-trained to execute high-profile attacks. The number of militants active in the state, as per the police and other agencies, ranges between 290 and 320, of which over 200 are locals and the rest foreigners. Around 157 locals have joined the militant ranks this y ear across the Valley, according to police sources.

The JeM was reactivated in J&K 2014 after the hanging of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru in Tihar jail in February 2013. JeM constituted a special ‘Afzal Guru squad’ to “avenge” Guru’s hanging and emerged as the leading force among militant organisations in the Valley in 2017 after the top leadership of Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed.

“JeM has started infiltrating their men from the international border in Jammu. Later they transport them to south Kashmir and other parts of the Valley. Most of JeM’s bases are in Tral and Kellar areas of southern Kashmir and Sopore, Baramullah and Handwara of northern Kashmir,” said a senior police official posted in southern Kashmir.

Another police official said the National Investigation Agency has arrested at least six people from Udhampur and Rajouri in Jammu in recent months who were allegedly involved in attacks carried out by JeM. The state police also said that JeM modules operating from different jails have been busted and some of the detainees shifted to other jails to keep them separate so that they do not plan more attacks.


High Alert In Delhi, Cops Look For 2 Suspected Jaish Terrorists

Delhi police is on the lookout for two suspected Jaish terrorists in the city

Police are checking hotels, guesthouses and vehicles in the city while there is tight vigil on Delhi’s entry points

Two days after the Amritsar blast, the Delhi police on Tuesday sounded an alert and released pictures of two men, suspected to be Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists who may seek to carry out an attack in the city. Police said that guest houses, hotels and paying guest accommodations where foreign students usually stay, are being scanned to trace the two.

In the photo released by the Delhi Police, the two men are seen leaning on a milestone that reads Firozpur 9 km and Delhi 360 km. Punjab’s Firozpur is 133 km from Amritsar where three persons were killed and 20 injured when two motorcycle-borne youths threw a grenade at a religious congregation on Sunday.

Police have pasted posters of the two suspects across the city and have also circulated their photos on the social media to alert people to inform the police immediately wherever and whenever the duo is spotted.

A senior officer who did not wish to be named said that they are yet to get information about the whereabouts of these men in Delhi. Police said that a warning, recently issued by the Jaish-e-Mohammed about avenging the death of its chief Maulana Masood Azhar’s nephew in an encounter in Kashmir on October 30, cannot be ruled out.

“We got inputs that they’re heading towards Delhi. We have increased the vigil in the bordering areas as well as in the city. Second-hand car dealers are being questioned and the parking lots are being scanned to spot abandoned vehicles,” the officer from the Delhi’s anti-terror special cell, said. The officer said that the district police have also been alerted to maintain high security.


India, Vietnam Agree To Expand Defence And Civil Nuclear Partnership

President Ram Nath Kovind and Vietnamese  President Nguyen Phu Trong  exchange greetings at a meeting at Government House in Hanoi, Vietnam, Tuesday, Nov 20, 2018

NEW DELHI: India and Vietnam during ongoing visit to President Ram Nath Kovind to Hanoi on Tuesday agreed to further strengthen bilateral cooperation across sectors including defence, peaceful uses of atomic energy and outer space, science and technology, oil and gas, infrastructure development, agriculture and innovation-based sectors.

Four MOUs in the fields of communications, education and trade and investment were signed to take bilateral agenda forward.

"We committed to further deepen our defence and security cooperation. I reiterated India’s commitment to provide training support for Vietnam Armed Forces. We also reviewed the implementation of the Line of Credit of US$ 100 million for building high-speed patrol vessels for Vietnamese Border Guards. My talks with President Phu Trong were extensive and productive. Our discussions covered the full range of bilateral and multilateral cooperation. We reiterated the importance of building a peaceful and prosperous Indo-Pacific region on the basis of respect for national sovereignty and international law," Kovind said in a statement after the visit.

"As Comprehensive Strategic Partners, India and Vietnam have a strong bilateral relationship based on mutual trust, understanding, convergence of views on regional and international issues and strong cooperation in regional and multilateral fora.

Vietnam, is a strategic pillar of India’s Act East Policy, and Delhi's key interlocutor in ASEAN.


India’s Big Space Leap; ISRO Now Readying Flight To Venus

V I Yegorov, N I Antoshin, veteran Soviet space scientists, assembling the Venera 13 Probe in 1981

ISRO recently announced its plans to undertake a mission to Venus in the early 2020s and has also invited international proposals for scientific payloads

by Dr Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan

Since the successful inter-planetary mission to Mars in November 2014, India’s civil space organisation, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), has been aiming to do more such missions that would give the agency greater understanding of the solar system while highlighting India’s rising prowess in the outer space domain. The successful Mars mission has given a huge fillip as well as confidence to the Indian scientific community to explore other planets in its quest to gain greater proficiency in deep space communication and other advanced capabilities. During the Mars mission, the deep space communication assistance was provided by the NASA.

After Mars, Venus is considered as the next ideal inter-planetary mission for several reasons. One, Venus is considered as the “twin sister” of the Earth due to similarities in size, mass, bulk composition, density and gravity. Given its closer proximity to the Sun by 30 percent as compared to Earth, solar flux is higher on Venus. Venus is also hotter than Mercury even though Mercury is closer to the sun, due to its thicker atmosphere. Even so, there have been attempts to explore Venus from the 1960s onwards through flyby, orbiter, and even a few lander missions. Russia undertook a total of 16 Venus missions under Venera series between 1961 and 1983.

NASA also undertook several missions starting with its Mariner 2 orbiter in 1962. The last dedicated NASA mission to Venus was in 1990, mapping 98 percent of the Venus surface over four years. Emphasising the importance of these missions, Jim Green, director of NASA’s Planetary Space Division said recently that, “While Venus is known as our ‘sister planet,’ we have much to learn, including whether it may have once had oceans and harboured life. By understanding the processes at work at Venus and Mars, we will have a more complete picture about how terrestrial planets evolve over time and obtain insight into the Earth’s past, present and future.”

50 Years ago, NASA's Mariner 5 Explores Venus

NASA and the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Space Research Institute (IKI) have also been in talks recently to undertake a collaborative mission to Venus to be launched sometime in the 2020s. One of the important objectives is to understand the climatic condition of Venus to know the causes of the rampant greenhouse effect in the planet today. The Venera-D mission will have an orbiter and a lander, and maybe even a solar-powered airship that would fly through Venus’ upper atmosphere. The US-Russian collaboration is significant as till date, the Russian Venera spacecraft remains the only one to successfully land on Venus and survive its harsh conditions.

ISRO too appreciates the importance of studying Venus. ISRO’s plans to do a mission to Venus came up first in the budgetary allocations of the Department of Space for the year 2017-18.

ISRO recently announced its plans to undertake a mission to Venus in the early 2020s and has also invited international proposals for scientific payloads. In an “Announcement of Opportunity (AO)”, the ISRO said, “there still exist gaps in our basic understanding about surface/sub-surface features and processes, super rotation of Venusian atmosphere and its evolution and interaction with solar radiation/solar wind.” The mission will have 12 scientific payloads aboard the satellite including a S-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Advanced Radar for Topside Ionosphere and subsurface sounding, Ultra Violet (UV) Imaging Spectroscopy Telescope, Thermal Camera, Cloud Monitoring Camera, Venus Atmospheric SpectroPolarimeter Airglow photometer and Mass Spectrometer. ISRO’s plans for a Venus is not entirely new. Last year, ISRO had called for space-based experiments proposals from scientists within India. In an earlier AO last year, it said the proposals are invited from those institutions in India that are engaged in planetary exploration studies, development of science instruments for space or willing to develop those experiments.

Traditionally, India did not focus on human space or inter-planetary missions. As the father of the Indian space programme Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru noted, India’s space programme is geared to uplift the lives of its people by focusing on the economic and developmental applications of space programme. Five decades later, as India’s space programme advances, there is a natural progression which has seen a change of tack in its overall orientation. So, in many sense, India’s Mars mission and now the plans for the Venus mission are to be seen as a natural progression for ISRO. These missions will give India and ISRO greater visibility highlighting the agency’s ability to undertake complex and credible missions in an economically competitive manner. This has implications as India enters the global commercial space market as a competitive player able to offer cost-effective launches for new and upcoming players from across the developing world who have similar aspirations as India.

However, ISRO needs to get more innovative about the policy landscape and provide opportunity also to the private sector so that ISRO can focus on larger, common-interest areas such as space exploration which the private sector is unlikely to pursue. Ideally, the private sector should be given a level playing field on the commercial side, with the ISRO playing the role of a facilitator and focusing on more scientifically important areas such as national security, which the private sector will not be suitable for. At the very least, many of the tried and tested programmes such as the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV) should be handed over to the private players in a time-bound manner. That said, the ISRO’s Venus plans demonstrate the continued and steady growth and maturation of India’s space capabilities that is rightly a matter of pride for both ISRO and India.

The author is a Distinguished Fellow and Head, Nuclear and Space Policy Initiative Observer Research Foundation


NEVER FORGET 26/11: Mumbai Police Active Participant In Coastal Security Upgrades

Police Commando City police, along with ICG and the Navy organises a quarterly security operation called Sagar Kavach to check preparedness of the agencies

Ten years ago, ten Pakistani gunmen entered Mumbai via sea route and launched a deadly attack on Mumbai's soil. It has been ten years and the state and central administration are still trying to plug-in the loopholes in the coastal policing.

After 26/11, a major security flaw that came to the fore was porous coastal security. Neither the Indian Navy nor the Coast Guard had intelligence on the 26/11 attack. This called for immediate measures to strengthen the country's coastline.

The Mumbai Police had set up a dedicated Marine Policing Unit and for the first time, its jurisdiction included waters.

In order to add teeth to the Marine Unit, the police had purchased speedboats and sea-legs amphibian boats for sea patrolling.

The state police had also created a dedicated post of Inspector General Coastal Security, who would be a nodal officer to coordinate with Indian Navy and Coast Guard.

The Mumbai police, along with the Coast Guard and the Navy, organises a quarterly Sagar Kavach operation to check the preparedness of these agencies to safeguard the coastline. In his operation, dummy terrorists are tasked to sneak into the city via sea.

"Operations like Sagar Kavach has time and again resulted that dummy terrorists had managed to sneak in the city and gained vantage points. We then analyse the drawbacks and derive measures that needs to be taken to secure our coastline,"said a police officer.

The city police had recently written a proposal to the government asking for sanctioning of dedicated five police stations in the city's 149 kilometre coastline. The task of these police stations would be to do census of fishermen, collect Intelligence and brief government about threats from Coast route and not investigate conventional crimes.

In addition, the Maharashtra Police has sent a proposal to the state government asking for sanctioning of Intermediate Support Vessels (ISV) for bolstering it's coastal policing. The existing Fast Patrol Vessels (FPV) with the police can stay at sea for around five hours, while ISVs can stay at sea for seven days and can reach up to 200 nautical miles, police said.

"Maharashtra has a coastline of 720 kilometre and 842 kilometre creek area. For effective monitoring of coastline, coastal security and fishermen security ISV is the need of the hour," said a police officer.

SECURITY UPDATES

  • After 26/11, a major security flaw that came to the fore was porous coastal security 
  • Neither the Indian Navy nor the Coast Guard had intelligence on the 26/11 attack 
  • This called for immediate measures to strengthen the country’s coastline


Army Wants More On Field, Plans To Reduce Headquarters Strength


Indian Army is considering a plan of cutting about 20 percent of its manpower in all departments at its central headquarters in Delhi. The idea is to have more officers and Jawans available for field formations

The move aimed at enhancing the army’s combat capabilities and turn it into a better fighting machine is part of an internal study to restructure the headquarters. It was a main point presented to senior army veterans during a seminar organised in Delhi on Sunday on Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s initiative. At the seminar, whose outcome was to draw from the experiences of the veterans, Rawat interacted with them on four internal studies to transform the army, including the one to restructure the headquarters. Veterans who participated in the seminar explained that they gave their views on the changes planned by the army to meet operational requirements and future challenges.

Officials explained that the veterans were presented the plan to cut manpower at the headquarters, to make it more “responsive and improve its efficiency”. A veteran, on condition of anonymity, said, “We learnt that its not cut back in the army, but optimum utilisation of manpower from areas which have lost relevance in the changing dynamics now.”

Explaining the current status of the plan, officials said discussions are being held on reducing the manpower by up to 20 percent. Some departments have finalised the manpower to be cut and send to field formations. The cuts are planned to take place over a few years by not replacing officers who have finished their tenure in the departments. Eventually, this will bring down the numbers.

The move also looks at merging departments having similar tasks. This too is for optimum utilisation of manpower. For example, merging the Directorate General of Military Training (DGMT), located at the central headquarters, with the Shimla based Army Training Command (ARTRAC). Both have similar roles, like the DGMT executes training plans for operations, war games, joint training, while the ARTRAC controls the training establishments and writes training pamphlets. The army top brass at its commanders’ conference last month had agreed on this.

“The plan is to ensure that the number of officers will reduce at army headquarters and increase at units and formations, where most of them are needed,” explained an official.

It gains importance due to creation of new structures at the headquarters and the need to integrate them. Some departments, however, have objected to the plan, claiming that they need more manpower for the tasks assigned to them.

Other important proposals under the four studies, such as merging the ranks of Brigadier and Major General were also discussed at the veterans’ seminar. The idea behind this is to ensure faster career growth for officers. It would mean that Colonels who are approved for promotions would directly become Major Generals without being Brigadiers in between.

The concept of having Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) in the army was also discussed. An IBG will be bigger than a brigade (about 3000 personnel), but smaller than a division (about 10,000 personnel). It will have elements of infantry, artillery, armoured and support units. An IBG is tasked to split an enemy’s strike elements in mechanised warfare. “Therefore this is more of a defensive posture, instead of looking at offensive roles. They will do well in terrain meant for mechanised warfare such as deserts, but won’t be of much use in mountains due to restricted spaces,” said another veteran.

However, the changes being proposed will have to be cleared by the defence ministry before implementation.


Pakistan Summons U.S. Envoy To Protest Trump's Criticism


Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan speaks at the opening ceremony of the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai on November 5, 2018

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday summoned the U.S. Chargé d'Affaires in Islamabad to protest against remarks made by President Donald Trump who has criticised Pakistan's role in fighting terrorism fight and the killing of Osama bin Laden.

Trump's comments over the last few days have angered Pakistan, including Prime Minister Imran Khan, who on Monday hit back at Trump by saying on Twitter that few allies have sacrificed or helped the United States as much as Pakistan in its war on terror.

The friction threatens to further worsen already fragile relations between Islamabad and Washington, on-off allies who have repeatedly clashed about the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan's alleged support for Islamist militants.

"The Foreign Secretary called in the U.S. CdA Ambassador Paul Jones to register a strong protest on the unwarranted and unsubstantiated allegations made against Pakistan," Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Trump said in an interview Pakistan doesn't "do a damn thing" for the United States despite billions of dollars in U.S. aid, and alleged Pakistani officials knew former al-Qaeda leader bin Laden's location before his killing by U.S. troops in a raid inside Pakistan in 2011.

On Monday, Trump tweeted again and doubled down on those claims.

"Rejecting the insinuations about OBL, Foreign Secretary reminded the US CdA that it was Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation that provided the initial evidence to trace the whereabouts of OBL," the ministry said, adding that "baseless rhetoric about Pakistan was totally unacceptable".


Suspended Security Assistance As Pakistan Failed To Act On Militant Safe Havens: White House


Trump on Sunday accused Pakistan of not doing "a damn thing" for the US

WASHINGTON: The US has made it clear to Pakistani leaders that it expects them to constructively address the problem of militant safe havens in the country, the White House said after President Donald Trump and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan faced off over the issue that has impacted bilateral ties.

Trump on Sunday accused Pakistan of not doing "a damn thing" for the US. He cited Osama bin Laden and the Taliban resurgence in neighbouring Afghanistan as examples of how Pakistan would "take our money and do nothing for us".

Khan reacted angrily by saying that his country had suffered enough by fighting terrorism on behalf of the United States.

"Now we will do what is best for our people and our interests," the cricketer-turned politician said on Twitter.

The White House defended Trump's decision to suspend security assistance to Pakistan.

"The (Trump) Administration has been clear to Pakistani leaders that it expects them to constructively address the problem of militant safe havens in Pakistan," an official from the National Security Council, the White House, told PTI.

"Because Pakistan failed to address the problem, the Administration suspended security assistance," the official said, requesting anonymity.

"We remain hopeful that Pakistan will realise it is in its own interest to cooperate with the US strategy in Afghanistan," said the official responding Khan accusing President Trump of false assertion in his country's fight against terror.

The US and others have long complained that Pakistan provides a safe haven to militant networks, allowing them to carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, a charge that Islamabad denies.

Trump while announcing his new South Asia policy in August last year accused Pakistan of failing to do enough against terrorist groups inside the country.