Tuesday, July 23, 2024

'Draft Note' To Upgrade Sukhoi Fighter Jets Ready For PM-Led Panel Review

The proposal outlines a comprehensive upgrade for the initial batch of 84 Sukhoi jets, with a total estimated cost of around ₹63,000 crore

The IAF currently operates 259 Sukhois most of which were license-produced by HAL under a deal with Russia worth over $12 billion.

India has finalised its plan to boost its existing Russian-origin Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets to ensure they are capable of air combat for another three decades, according to Times of India.

According to the report, the Ministry of Defence has prepared a "draft note" for approval by the Prime Minister-led Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS).

The proposal outlines a comprehensive upgrade for the initial batch of 84 Sukhoi jets, with a total estimated cost of around ₹63,000 crore. This includes the entire design and development phase, sources told TOI.

According to the report, these upgraded ‘Super’ Sukhois will be close to the fifth-generation fighters in terms of capabilities, with the exception of stealth technology.

The upgraded version will incorporate manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) capability, allowing ‘Super’ Sukhois to operate in conjunction with advanced autonomous drones using artificial intelligence and data links. This will increase their mission effectiveness. The Indian Air Force (IAF) aims to keep these upgraded Sukhois in service until 2055, according to the TOI report.

The Sukhoi is important to IAF since currently it has only 30 fighting squadrons with 16 to 18 jets in each. The TOI report stated that its authorised” strength is 42 to combat both China and Pakistan. All the 84 twin-engined Sukhois will be upgraded by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) in 15 years.

Following the CCS sanction, seven years will be taken for development and flight testing, followed by the gradual upgrade and induction of the jets in batches.

The IAF currently operates 259 Sukhois. Most of these are license-produced by HAL under a deal with Russia worth over $12 billion. These aircraft form the backbone of the IAF's combat fleet. An additional order for 12 new Sukhois and associated equipment, costing around ₹11,500 crore, has been placed to replace those lost in accidents over the years, stated the TOI report.

Going Forward

Sources told TOI that in the next 15 years, India will have developed its own fifth-generation fighter, the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA). The current upgrade project will equip the Sukhois with indigenous “Virupaksha” advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radars. “This enhanced capability will allow the Sukhois to utilize longer-range weapons such as the Astra-3 air-to-air missile, which boasts a beyond-visual-range of 350 km,” sources told TOI.

Currently, 40 Sukhoi fighters have already been modified to carry the air-to-ground BrahMos supersonic cruise missile. The BrahMos missile's range has been extended from 290 km to 450 km, and a variant with an 800 km range is also under development, according to the TOI report.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

ISRO successfully Conducts Flight Experiment of Advanced Scramjet Engine

ISRO conducts flight test of Air Breathing Propulsion System

The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully carried out the second experimental flight for the demonstration of Air Breathing Propulsion Technology at 07:00 am today. The Propulsion systems were symmetrically mounted on either side of a RH-560 Sounding rocket and launched from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota. The flight test achieved satisfactory performance of the Sounding Rocket along with successful ignition of the Air Breathing propulsion systems. Nearly 110 parameters were monitored during the flight to assess its performance.

The flight data from the mission will be useful for the next phase of development of Air Breathing Propulsion systems. Prior to the mission, multiple ground tests were carried out at the various ISRO Centres including Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre (VSSC), Liquid Propulsion Systems Centre (LPSC) & ISRO Propulsion Complex (IPRC) and also at the CSIR -National Aerospace Laboratories (CSIR-NAL), Bangalore.

RH-560 is a two-stage, solid motor based sub-orbital rocket that is designed to be utilized as a cost-effective flying test bed for the demonstration of advanced technologies. It is the heaviest sounding rocket in the ISRO’s family of sounding rockets and is launched from Sriharikota.

ISRO Press Release

Nepal PM Oli Stokes Up Border Issue; Reiterates Lipulekh, Kalapani And Limpiyadhura To Be Nepali Territories

Kathmandu: Nepali Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has asserted that the disputed tri-junction of Lipulekh, Kalapani and Limpiyadhura are to be Nepali territories. Participating in the Question-answer session in the parliament, the Nepali Prime Minister asserted that a recent meeting between the Prime Ministers of Nepal and India has agreed to pursue a diplomatic route to resolve border-related issues.

"Regarding the international border of Nepal, the federal parliament, the Government of Nepal and all the Nepali are steadfast. The second amendment of the Constitution of Nepal had incorporated the new political map of Nepal in Schedule 2 and we have unprecedented agreement while doing so. As per the Sugauli Treaty of 1816, the Kalapani, Limpiyadhura and Lipulekh, all the territories that lie on the West of Kali- the Mahakali River belongs to Nepal, the government is steadfast and clear about it," Oli said.

Further adding, "During the high-level visits between the Nepali and Indian Prime Ministers the issues of the border have been raised timely and these issues would be resolved through the established mechanisms. In the 7th edition of the India-Nepal Joint Commission meeting held last year in the presence of the Foreign Minister, the issues of the border also were discussed. Both countries have expressed commitment to resolve the border issues at the earliest."

"The Nepal-India Boundary working group is also working to regulate the pillars on the border areas as well as the no-man's land and set up cross holding are being carried out timely," he added.

Nepal in the year 2020 amended the constitution by incorporating a new political and administrative map in the preamble constitution. The new map included the tri-junction of Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipulekh which has remained a disputed area between Nepal and India.

Nepal's updated map prepared incorporating the missing territories was submitted to the Ministry of Land Management by the Department of Survey which claims to have taken accurate scale, projection and coordinate system. It was publicly released on May 20, 2020, after a go-ahead signal from the Cabinet meeting on 18th of May the same year.

The department has collected a map drawn during the Treaty of Sugauli, another brought from London, receipts of payment of land revenues and the order issued by the then Prime Minister Chandra Shumsher, as evidence to claim that the land belongs to Nepal.

The earlier map issued in 2032 BS had left Gunji, Nabhi and Kuri villages which now have been included in the lately revised map adding 335 square kilometers of its land.

Tensions between New Delhi and Kathmandu last year arose after the issuance of the political map by Nepal in mid-May including the tri-junction, which India earlier had included in its November 2019 issued map.

Diplomatic ties between the nations severed further after the inauguration of a road linking Kailash Mansarovar via Lipulekh on May 8, 2020, after which Nepal handed over a diplomatic note to India objecting to the move.

Before the handover of the diplomatic note, Nepal also had strongly objected to India's unilateral move to construct the road. Following a strong objection from Nepal, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said the road going through Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district "lies completely within the territory of India."

Nepal said it has "consistently maintained" that as per the Sugauli Treaty (1816), "all the territories east of Kali (Mahakali) river, including Limpiyadhura, Kalapani and Lipu Lekh, belong to Nepal."Indian Defence Ministry had said the Border Road Organisation (BRO) in Uttarakhand has connected Kailash Mansarovar route to Lipulekh pass, which will provide connectivity to border villages and security forces.

Following a strong objection from Nepal, India's Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said the road going through Uttarakhand's Pithoragarh district "lies completely within the territory of India."

(With Inputs From Agencies)

Hindu Temple Vandalised Again In Canada Amid Rising Concerns Over Extremist Activities

Edmonton: In a troubling recurrence of targeted attacks on Hindu places of worship across Canada, the BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Edmonton fell victim once more to vandalism.

Member of Parliament for Nepean, Chandra Arya, voiced deep concern over the escalating incidents of hate-fueled violence directed at Hindu-Canadian communities.

"The Hindu temple BAPS Swaminarayan Mandir in Edmonton is vandalised again. During the last few years, Hindu temples in the Greater Toronto Area, British Columbia, and other places in Canada are being vandalised with hateful graffiti," Arya said in a post on X on Tuesday.

The recent attack adds to a string of similar incidents documented in recent years, underscoring a distressing trend of religious intolerance. Last year, a Hindu temple in Windsor suffered defacement with anti-India graffiti, sparking widespread condemnation and calls for action from both Canadian and Indian officials. Earlier incidents in Mississauga and Brampton saw temples similarly targeted, drawing strong reactions from the Indian community in Canada.

Arya, a Liberal member of Parliament known for his advocacy on multicultural issues, pointed to the impunity enjoyed by Khalistani extremists in Canada, citing instances where their rhetoric has openly incited hatred and violence.

"As I have always been saying, Khalistani extremists seem to get away with ease with their public rhetoric of hate and violence. Again, let me put it on record. Hindu Canadians are legitimately concerned. Like a broken record, I again call on Canadian law enforcement agencies to take this issue seriously before these rhetorics get translated into physical action against Hindu Canadians," Arya reiterated.

"Gurpatwant Singh Pannun of Sikhs for Justice last year publicly called for Hindus to go back to India. Khalistan supporters publicly celebrated in Brampton and Vancouver the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and brandishing images of deadly weapons," Arya further said.

The incident was also raised on social media by another Canadian political leader, who termed the incident a display of "hateful rhetoric".

"Earlier today, the Edmonton BAPS Mandir was vandalised with paint, displaying hateful rhetoric on the walls of what should be a place of refuge. Hate has no part in Canada - much less in places of worship & prayer. This incident is wrong & goes against the values of our city," Randy Boissonnault, Member of the House of Commons of Canada, said in a post on X.

Canadian law enforcement agencies have been urged to take proactive measures to address these threats and ensure the safety and security of all religious communities in Canada. The incidents have prompted renewed discussions on bolstering security measures around Hindu temples and enhancing efforts to combat extremist propaganda.

Meanwhile, several global reports have highlighted the growing concerns over Khalistani sympathisers operating within Canada, with incidents often linked to calls for an independent Khalistan state in India's Punjab region.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

'Kamala Harris Could Be Game-Changer For Indian-American Voters, Donors': American Political Scientist On Biden Endorsing Her For US President

Washington: As some of the most powerful leaders of the Democratic establishment embraced Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday after President Joe Biden's shocking exit from the presidential re-election race, a professor of public policy and political science has observed that the Indian-American community could coalesce around Kamala Harris.

Karthick Ramakrishnan, researcher at University of California, Berkeley and founder of AAPI Data, said, "This really shakes up the race in a big way. And I can imagine a lot of Indian American donors and activists, elected officials, you know, Pramila Jaipal already came out today endorsing Kamala."

"I think it will indeed be a game changer," Ramakrishnan told ANI.

Harris, whose late mother was born in India, is the first Indian-American candidate to make a serious run at the presidency.

In public statements and appearances, Harris doesn't shy away from her Indian heritage. She has often publicly said, "My mother, Shyamala, came from India to study the science of fighting disease."

As Kamala's candidacy takes shape in the days ahead, Ramakrishnan observed that the Indian American community will get behind Harris as they view her favorably.

"Past research indicates that when you have someone who comes from your community on the ballot, you tend to vote, your community is more likely to vote. So I would anticipate Indian American turnout to be among the highest that it's been in recent elections if indeed it is Harris at the top of the ticket," Ramakrishnan told ANI.

Indian-Americans are a relatively small proportion of voters--about 4 million in the United States--and they traditionally skew Democratic. Indian-Americans are also among the most affluent voters in the country, making them a powerful potential donor base.

In many states and counties where races are tight, winning a sizable portion of the Indian American vote could make the difference.

"So this is definitely... a community that is energized and mobilized and I think you'll continue to see that this year, Indian Americans have been more Democrat than Republican consistently. My sense is that Harris will probably improve upon Biden's performance among Indian Americans," he said.

"I think both parties will be competing for Indian-American votes and also Indian American contributions. Trump... in his vetting of his potential vice presidential candidates, surely knew that Usha Vance is J.D. Vance's wife. So he must have calculated that it wouldn't hurt him politically too much among others," he noted.

"And Kamala Harris has much stronger favorability ratings than Haley and Ramasamy do among the Indian American population. So this is still a game where the Democrats and Harris in particular will have a stronger advantage than Trump, even if he tries to bring Usha Vance into the equation. It's unlikely to reverse the pattern," he further said.

The 2018 and 2020 elections saw record increases in voter turnout among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs).

In 2020, Asian Americans saw a significant double-digit increase in presidential turnout (11 points) and also had the highest midterm turnout gain in 2018, a 14-point increase. In 2020, almost 60 per cent (7.6 million) of the Asian American citizen-age voting population turned out.

Meanwhile, in battleground states such as Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, North Carolina and Pennsylvania, the number of Asian Americans who cast their ballot in 2020 exceeded the presidential margin of victory.

In the past two decades, Asian Americans have also become one of the fastest-growing racial or ethnic groups in the United States. Between 2010 and 2020, the Asian population in the United States grew by 39 per cent, and their population is projected to pass 35 million by 2060.

Republicans may not be on the verge of winning over the Indian diaspora in America. But even marginal gains could be notable in closely contested states and now with Kamala Harris on the ticket, the Trump Vance campaign will compete vigorously for Asian and Indian American votes and dollars.

"But I think what you will find is that among a lot of Democratic donors and also Democratic voters, especially younger voters, Black voters, Asian American voters, a lot more enthusiasm than what you found even a week ago...So it's going to be a very volatile and unpredictable year when it comes to the US election," the researcher added.

Vice President Kamala Harris swiftly moved to secure support for her White House bid shortly after President Joe Biden announced his decision not to seek re-election.

On Sunday, Harris engaged with key figures on Capitol Hill, including Rep Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash) of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, Rep Nanette Barragan (D-Calif) of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, and Rep Ann McLane Kuster (D-NH) of the New Democrat Coalition, all of whom have already endorsed her candidature.

Harris also connected with Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), who enthusiastically shared on social media platform X, "She is ready to win in Wisconsin!!!"

In response to Biden's endorsement, Harris expressed gratitude in a statement, "I am honoured to have the President's endorsement, and my intention is to earn and win this nomination."

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed

Egypt Is Important And Valued Strategic Partner: Jaishankar

New Delhi: External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar on Monday attended an event here marking the National Day celebrations of Egypt and said India is committed to take forward the strategic partnership between the two countries.

Describing Egypt as an important and valued strategic partner, Jaishankar conveyed best wishes to the Government and people of Egypt.

Jaishankar said that the longstanding relationship between India and Egypt has intensified in recent years and referred to the visit of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi as the chief guest of Republic Day in 2023 and Prime Minister Narendra Modi's subsequent visit to Egypt with the bilateral relationship elevated to the strategic level.

"Indeed, in substance, activities and enthusiasm, we are both living up to the new nomenclature.

Our economic cooperation has been steadily diversifying, with both sides seeking new opportunities for mutual benefit. More than 50 Indian companies have already invested in various sectors of the Egyptian economy, with pharmaceuticals, electronics and green energy being focus sectors. Our IT industry too has been establishing partnerships that we hope to see grow in the times ahead," Jaishankar said.

The minister said Egypt has also opened up as a market for India's agro-exports, notably that of wheat.

He said defence collaboration has also grown in this very period.

"Since 2021, our Air Forces have held regular exercises bilaterally as well as in a larger format. Our Special Forces too are conducting their own exercises, most recently in January of this year. There are frequent and regular visits to Egyptian ports of Indian Naval Ships. And our defence industries are refreshing an old tradition through new activities and collaboration."

He said as two old civilizations, it is natural that cultural cooperation occupies a prominent place in the relationship.

"We are cognizant that Yoga is enormously popular in Egypt. Prime Minister Modi himself referred to it during his Yoga address on the last International Day of Yoga. There is an interest as well in learning Indian languages and interactions between our Universities remain strong," he said.

"When it comes to world affairs, Indian and Egyptian diplomats have a long tradition of working closely. And I was just discussing that with Ambassador as we came in, we appreciated that Egypt participated in the G20 during the Indian presidency," he added.

Jaishankar said India strongly supported Egypt's membership of the BRICS.

"We value our collaboration in the context of the India-Africa Forum Summit process. I should add that I personally enjoyed a very warm and comfortable working relationship with my then counterpart, Minister Sameh Shoukry. I look forward to establishing the same with his successor," Jaishankar said.

"Let me reiterate my Government's commitment to take our strategic partnership forward," he added.

He said the bilateral ties have witnessed a discernible upswing during the tenure of Ambassador Wael Mohamed Awad Hamed.

This report is auto-generated from a syndicated feed

Police Warns Against Sharing Video Made By JeM Terrorists Featuring Saif Ali Khan

The terror group has made a 5 minutes and 55 seconds long video.

Jammu and Kashmir Police has warned people against sharing a "propaganda video" shared by proscribed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror outfit featuring Bollywood actor Saif Ali khan.

Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday warned people against forwarding a "propaganda video" made by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit, which features Bollywood actor Saif Ali Khan.

Taking to micro-blogging platform X, Jammu and Kashmir Police said that the terror group has made a 5 minutes and 55 seconds long video featuring a poster of Bollywood film Phantom with an image of Saif Ali Khan.

The department said that the 'enemy' released the video online around 2 pm on Monday and warned people not to forward it in any way to anyone. Additionally, anyone who receives the video is required to report the same to police.

The person reporting the said video must also mention the sender's telephone number, along with the date and time of receipt, the police advisory said.

Additionally, any government official who receives the video must report it to their seniors via text message.

"Under no circumstances, this video shall be forwarded. It should be remembered that position and forwarding of content of this nature is an offence under section 13 and 18 of UAPA," the police advisory added.

Jaish-e-Mohammed is a Pakistan-based Deobandi Jihadist terrorist group active in Kashmir. The group was behind the terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Doda district last week, which killed an Army officer and three soldiers.

After the attack, the Kashmir Tigers, a shadow group of Jaish, even released a purported video on social media that showed a brutal display of running a knife on the throat of an Army officer.

The Indian Army, however, dismissed the video as doctored. "It is simply a propaganda video by Pakistani terror handlers to mislead and create fear among the people," Army sources told news agency PTI.

Since the beginning of this year, 27 people, including 11 security personnel, a village defence guard and five terrorists, have been killed in nearly a dozen terror attacks in six districts of the otherwise peaceful Jammu region.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

PM Modi, Luxembourg Counterpart Reiterate Commitment To Enhance Investment And Trade Ties

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a conversation with Luxembourg Prime Minister Luc Frieden reiterated commitment to strengthen relations in areas of trade, and investment.

Taking to his official X handle, PM Modi said, "Had a good conversation with Prime Minister Luc Frieden. Reiterated commitment to deepen and strengthen India-Luxembourg ties including in the areas of trade, investment, financial services and industrial manufacturing."

PM Modi further said, "As democracies, we support regional and global peace and stability."

Meanwhile, Frieden also took to his official X handle and posted about his conversation with PM Modi. He said, "Had a good phone call with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India. India is an important partner for Luxembourg."

He added, "We confirmed our commitment to further strengthen our close ties. We also discussed geopolitical issues of common interest and our goal to work toward peace and stability."

The diplomatic relations between India and Luxembourg were established in 1947. Since then, India and Luxembourg have enjoyed close, warm and friendly relations, rooted in a shared commitment to the Rule of Law, democratic values and development.

The relationships are characterised by a high degree of understanding and appreciation of each other's concerns and interests.

In April, the 2nd round of India-Luxembourg Foreign Office Consultations (FoC) took place in New Delhi, with the discussions centering on bilateral relations and emphasis laid on the early conclusion of a comprehensive, balanced and mutually beneficial India-EU Free Trade Agreement.

During the consultations, the two sides not only expressed happiness at the growing financial sector collaboration between the two nations, but also discussed ways to further expand economic links and deepen cooperation in areas of finance, steel, space, ICT (Information and communications technology), innovation, start-ups, manufacturing, automotives, health, sustainable development, renewable energy, and the fight against climate change, the Ministry of External Affairs had stated in an official press release.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

'India's Message For The World Is Development And Heritage': India's Ambassador To UNESCO

New Delhi: Vishal V Sharma, India's Ambassador and Permanent Representative to UNESCO, emphasized the significance of the World Heritage Committee by highlighting India's role as a cultural superpower and underscored India's message for world development and heritage.

The World Heritage Committee, which convenes annually, is tasked with managing all matters related to World Heritage and making decisions on the sites to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Notably, the inauguration of the World Heritage Committee session took place on Sunday at Bharat Mandapam in the national capital. This significant event will run until July 31, 2024.

Speaking with ANI, Sharma said, "India is a cultural superpower. 'Sanskrit se Sanskriti, Sanskriti se Sanskar aur Sanskar se Sanskar djham, jaha sanskar sikhaye jate hai'... The message of India to the world is culture. India's message to the world is development and heritage."

He added, "This World Heritage Committee which is taking place in India is a part of every Indian family. It represents everyone."

Speaking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's remarks that India's heritage is not just history but science as well, Sharma said, "The Rudreshwara Ramappa Temple, was constructed in the 12th century, at a time when even Magna Charter was not signed. At that time, the foundation of the Mandir was built on a shock-absorbing technique. The statues were carved out of hard dolerite rock... This technology cannot be found anywhere else apart from India. This is an example of ancient Indian technology and there are several examples apart from this."

The Ambassador further said that these monuments has been built by our ancestors. "We are just its protectors and have to save it for our future. We have to motivate our future generation to protect these kinds of monuments as these are just like 'Kohinoor'."

Praising the Central government over the World Heritage Committee, Sharma said, "Today in the world, India's prestige has increased because of the work done by Priem Minister Narendra Modi and on the path on which the Central Government has moved forward. The announcement made by the PM yesterday of contributing $1 million for capacity building, we will do it for Global South and to help other nations."

Speaking at the inauguration of the 46th session of the World Heritage Committee, PM Modi had said that India considers the preservation of global heritage as its responsibility, and, hence, is providing support for heritage conservation not only in India but also in countries of the Global South.

"India considers the preservation of global heritage as its responsibility, and hence, we are providing support for heritage conservation not only in India but also in countries of the Global South. India is assisting in the conservation of many heritages like Angkor Wat in Cambodia, Cham Temples in Vietnam, and Bagan Stupa in Myanmar. In this direction, I am making an announcement. India will contribute one million dollars to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre. This grant will be used for capacity building, technical assistance, and the conservation of world heritage sites," PM Modi said.

"A certificate programme in world heritage management has also started in India for young professionals," he added.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

'Playing A Big Role': Jordan's Tourism Minister Highlights India's Role On International Front

New Delhi: Jordan's Minister of Tourism, Makram Mustafa A Queisi, has said that India is a nation that is playing a big role on the regional and international front.

While addressing a press conference on Monday, Queisi said that he travelled to India to participate in the World Heritage Committee meeting. He noted that the World Heritage Committee meeting is being held for the first time in India and called it important for India and UNESCO.

The World Heritage Committee meets annually and is responsible for managing all matters related to World Heritage and deciding on sites to be inscribed on the World Heritage List. Notably, the inauguration of the World Heritage Committee session took place on Sunday at Bharat Mandapam in the national capital. This significant event will run until July 31, 2024.

Asked on what brings him to India, he responded, "Two reasons, actually, The first one is to participate in the World Heritage Committee meeting, which is very, very important. It's the first time it's been held in India. And it's not only important for India; it's also important for UNESCO, because holding such a prestigious, important meeting for UNESCO in a country like India, rich in culture, history, a great nation, great people, and a great, not only ancient history, but also in the modern days, India is a growing economy."

"India constitutes a country that is playing a big role, not only in the region but actually on the international front. So yes, we are participating here because we have a site to be inscribed on the World Heritage List of UNESCO. This will be the seventh to be inscribed. It's important for us because this represents part of the Nabataean civilization that we are proud of with the centrepiece maybe or the capital of this civilization in Petra," he added.

Highlighting the importance of Petra for Jordan, he stated, "Petra for us is not only architecture. For us, Petra is a fully fledged civilization. Petra for us is a trade route, a commerce centre that connected, in the past 2,000 years, India with our part of the world. The Silk Road was a major component of this civilization. So, ...is also an extension of this important civilization. Number two is to conduct a bilateral sort of business between Jordan and India."

During the press conference, he also talked about the meeting he was scheduled to have with the Union Minister of Culture and Tourism, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat. He said that he will discuss increasing the number of tourists travelling from India to Jordan, direct flights between Amman and New Delhi and cooperation between two nations in various sectors, including archaeology.

(With Inputs From Agencies)

Slovakia Receives First Two F-16 Fighter Jets from US In Defence Boost

Slovakia received the first two of 14 new F-16 military jets from the United States on Monday. The delivery, delayed by two years due to the pandemic and a chip shortage, was celebrated by President Peter Pellegrini at the Kuchyna air base in western Slovakia. He stated that the F-16s will "significantly contribute to the increase of defence capabilities of our country."

The remaining jets are expected to be delivered over the next two years. The $1.8 billion deal for 14 US F-16 Block 70/72 fighter jets was signed in 2018 when Pellegrini was prime minister. This move aims to replace the outdated Soviet-made MiG-29 jets.

Slovakia grounded its MiG-29s in the summer of 2022 due to a lack of spare parts and expertise after Russian technicians left following Russia's full invasion of Ukraine. Last year, the government decided to donate its fleet of 13 MiG-29s to Ukraine, becoming the second NATO member to respond to Ukraine's request for warplanes.

Support From NATO Allies

In the absence of its own aircraft, Slovakia's airspace has been guarded by fellow NATO members Poland, the Czech Republic, and later Hungary. This cooperation ensured continued protection despite Slovakia's temporary lack of operational jets.

The new government, led by populist Prime Minister Robert Fico, came to power last year after winning the parliamentary election with an anti-American campaign. Fico has condemned the donation of jets to Ukraine and threatened legal action. He opposes military support for Ukraine and EU sanctions on Russia.

Pellegrini, a close ally of Fico, played a significant role in securing the F-16 deal during his tenure as prime minister. The arrival of these jets marks a significant upgrade in Slovakia's defense capabilities amidst ongoing regional tensions.

The gradual delivery of the remaining F-16s will continue over the next two years, enhancing Slovakia's military strength. This strategic acquisition underscores Slovakia's commitment to modernizing its defense infrastructure despite political shifts and external challenges.

The arrival of these advanced jets is a crucial step for Slovakia as it seeks to bolster its national security and fulfill its obligations within NATO. The collaboration with NATO allies highlights the importance of collective defense in maintaining regional stability.

The new government's stance on military support for Ukraine and relations with Russia remains a contentious issue within Slovak politics. However, the acquisition of F-16s demonstrates a clear investment in strengthening national defense capabilities.

As Slovakia continues to navigate its geopolitical landscape, the integration of these advanced fighter jets will play a pivotal role in shaping its defense strategy. The ongoing support from NATO allies further reinforces Slovakia's position within the alliance.

The delivery of these jets not only enhances Slovakia's military readiness but also signifies a broader commitment to regional security amidst evolving global dynamics.

(With Inputs From International Agencies)

Terrorist Attack On Army Picket In Rajouri Thwarted; Farooq Abdullah Says 'Few People Don't Want Peace'

Rajouri: Series of terror attacks continue in Jammu & Kashmir as terrorists attacked an Army picket in Rajouri on July 22. In a quick response, the terror bid in the Gundha area was thwarted by Indian security forces.

The area has been cordoned off and a massive encounter is still underway. This came days after 4 army soldiers, laid down their lives during an encounter in the Doda on July 16.

There has been a spike in terrorist attacks in the last few months in Jammu and Kashmir. Reacting on recent terror attacks in Jammu region, National Conference Chief, Farooq Abdullah said that few people in both countries don’t won’t peace. He further said that he is very hopeful that goal of such people will not be reached.


India's Defence Exports Skyrocket To $2.5 Billion In 2023-24: Marks A 30-Fold Leap Over Past Ten Years

India's defence exports reached a record high of ₹21,083 crore (approximately $2.63 billion) in the financial year 2023-24. This marks a significant growth of 32.5% over the previous fiscal year's figure of ₹15,920 crore. The growth in defence exports over the past ten years has been remarkable, with a 30-fold increase from ₹686 crore in the financial year 2013-14 to ₹21,083 crore in FY 2023-24.

Contribution And Factors

The private sector and the Defence Public Sector Undertakings (DPSUs) have played a crucial role in India's defence exports. The private sector contributed approximately 60% of the exports, while the DPSUs contributed around 40%. Several factors have contributed to the growth of India's defence exports. These include policy reforms, initiatives to improve the ease of doing business, and the adoption of end-to-end digital solutions to promote defence exports.

Comparison And Growth

Comparing the period from 2004-05 to 2013-14 with the period from 2014-15 to 2023-24, there has been a growth of 21 times in India's defence exports. The total defence exports during 2004-05 to 2013-14 were ₹4,312 crore, which increased to ₹88,319 crore in the period from 2014-15 to 2023-24. This growth can be attributed to India's progress in the global defence manufacturing industry and the increasing acceptance of Indian defence products and technologies worldwide.

India's defence exports have experienced significant growth in recent years, reaching a record high of ₹21,083 crore in the financial year 2023-24. The collaboration between the private sector and DPSUs, along with policy reforms and initiatives to improve the ease of doing business, has been instrumental in achieving this milestone. The growth in defence exports over the past ten years reflects the global acceptability of Indian defence products and technologies.

Our Bureau

Next-Generation Air Dominance US Fighter Program May Get Hit By Budget Woes

The U.S. Air Force's ambitious next-generation fighter jet program, envisioned as a revolutionary leap in technology, could become less ambitious as budget pressure, competing priorities and changing goals compel a rethink, defence officials and industry executives said.

Initially conceived as a "family of systems" centred around a sixth-generation fighter jet, the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program is meant to replace the F-22 Raptor and give the United States the most powerful weaponry in the sky well into the mid-21st century.

When it was first proposed, expectations were high, including an unmatched stealth capability to keep it invisible from even the most sophisticated radar, laser weapons and onboard artificial intelligence to process masses of data coming from the latest in sensor technology.

However, sources said the current development budget of $28.5 billion over five years ending in 2029 could be spread out over more time or scaled-back as the Pentagon searches for a cost-effective solution.

Sources briefed on the Air Force's internal budget deliberations said the anticipated 2026 fiscal-year NGAD budget of $3.1 billion would be slashed as funding shrinks, with one source adding that diminishing funds could stretch development by two more years.

While it is unclear how much the overall program will cost, it could eventually total well over $100 billion if 200 aircraft are produced, including initial costs - plus maintenance and upgrades over time. There are currently 185 F-22s in service - the plane NGAD is meant to replace.

The Air Force is also reviewing the concept for the jet - perhaps moving to a larger single-engine jet, from what is believed to be a two-engine design, or even shifting more funding to a less expensive unmanned drone to best address future air superiority needs given the potential budget cuts, industry experts said.

"NGAD was conceived before a number of things: before the threat became so severe, before CCAs (drone program) were introduced into the equation and before we had some issues with affordability that we are currently facing," Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said on Saturday at Britain's Royal International Air Tattoo, the world's largest military air show.

"Before we commit to the 2026 budget, we want to be sure we are on the right path," he added on a program that will be a popular talking point at the Farnborough International Air Show this week.

The shift in focus comes as the Air Force grapples with substantial cost overruns in several vital, and expensive, programs. For example, its Sentinel intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, which is set to replace the aging Minuteman-III missiles, has ballooned 81% over budget, to around $141 billion.

Budget pressure has forced the Air Force to reassess its spending priorities across various modernization efforts which also include increasing production of the new B-21 bomber made by Northrop Grumman.

U.S. aerospace and defence companies Lockheed Martin and Boeing have responded to the Air Force's request for proposal for the NGAD system, sources told Reuters.

While defence firms are not exactly desperate for orders with conflicts in Ukraine and Israel driving already-strong demand, NGAD was one of several potentially giant programs many hoped would feed the bottom line in the years ahead.

An Air Force spokesperson told Reuters the department is currently building its fiscal 2026 budget which will be released early next year. Representatives for Boeing did not return requests for comment. Lockheed would not comment on NGAD.

"The part that seems to be getting stalled and re-evaluated is the air vehicle itself, the central platform," said J.J. Gertler, a senior analyst at aerospace and defense analysis firm the Teal Group.

"The Air Force is now making sure that that's what they actually want and possibly changing their mind," he added.

Possible new configurations might be shifting to a single engine for the jet to save on up-front cost and long-term maintenance. Twin-engine jets are much more expensive to buy and operate, but they are more dependable and faster, therefore more deadly in a dogfight than their single-engine foes.

Another key component emerging from this restructuring is the possibility of shifting funds toward the unmanned fighter drone known as the Collaborative Combat Aircraft initiative.

Development of the less expensive drone platforms, designed to operate alongside the main jet, does not face budget changes.

(With Inputs From International Agencies)

Philippines And China Reach Deal To Avoid Clashes At Disputed South China Sea Shoal

Philippine and Chinese officials have reportedly reached a deal to prevent confrontations at a disputed shoal in the South China Sea, following recent clashes. The agreement, negotiated through closed-door meetings and diplomatic exchanges, aims to establish a mutually acceptable arrangement at the Second Thomas Shoal. Chinese forces had previously used water cannons and blocking maneuvers to disrupt supplies to Filipino navy personnel at the shoal.

Two Philippine officials said Sunday that Manila and Beijing have reached a deal to avoid confrontations at a fiercely disputed shoal in the South China Sea, where recent clashes have sparked fears of larger conflicts that could involve the United States.

The deal was forged after a series of closed-door meetings between Philippine and Chinese diplomats in Manila and exchanges of diplomatic notes that aimed to establish a mutually acceptable arrangement at the Philippine-occupied Second Thomas Shoal, which China also claims.

The Philippine officials who confirmed the deal to The Associated Press on Sunday spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of a public announcement of the pact.

Chinese coast guard and other forces have used powerful water cannons and dangerous blocking manoeuvres to prevent food and other supplies from reaching Filipino navy personnel at Manila's outpost at the shoal.

(With Input From Agencies)