PM Modi to ask Tajikistan for lease of ex-Soviet airbase
Use of the Ayni airbase for the Indian Air Force, tops the agenda for discussion with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon when Prime Minister Narendra Modi arrives on a state visit to the country today.
Sandeep Unnithan | Mail Today | New Delhi, July 12, 2015 | UPDATED 11:08 IST
A Google Earth image of Ayni air force base, currently used by the Tajik and Russian air forces.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to ask Tajikistan for the lease of a former Soviet airbase that was refurbished by India in 2007.
Government sources told Mail Today that use of the Ayni airbase for the Indian Air Force, tops the agenda for discussion with Tajikistan President Emomali Rahmon when the prime minister arrives on a state visit on July 12.
Tajikistan marks the last leg of Prime Minister Modi's eight-day tour of the five Central Asian Republics and Russia. The Ayni airbase near Tajikistan's capital Dushanbe has long been key to expanding India's strategic footprint in Central Asia. India refurbished the base in 2007 but could not base fighters and helicopters there because of Russian pressure.
"Getting a foreign airbase, particularly in Central Asia is a significant development. But in this case, two other countries, Tajikistan and Russia, have to agree," former Air Chief Marshal PV Naik told Mail Today.
The origins of the airbase lie in the hijacking of Indian Airlines Flight IC-814 to Kandahar. The Vajpayee government began talks for the lease of an airbase after it discovered it had no proximate access to Afghanistan. Tajikistan shares a 1,400-km land border with Afghanistan. In the mid- 1990s India set up a field hospital at another Tajik airbase in Farkhor, over 100 km south-east of the capital Dushanbe, from where it supported the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance forces of Ahmad Shah Massoud.
In 2002, India and Tajikistan signed a bilateral defence agreement, one component of which was the repair of a disused Soviet airbase, Ayni, 10 km west of Dushanbe. The IAF planned to base a squadron of Mi-17 transport helicopters there and also train Tajik Air Force pilots. The Border Roads Organisation spent $70 million (Rs 443 crore) to refurbish the airbase in 2007, lengthening its runway to 3.2 kilometres, and building hangars and an air traffic control tower. Resistance, however, came from an unexpected quarter: Russia, which considers Tajikistan within its sphere of influence. In 2007, Russia pressurised the Tajik government to deny India access to the airbase, and the plans went into cold storage.
The use of the Ayni airbase received fresh impetus from the Modi government. Last September, foreign minister Sushma Swaraj visited Tajikistan during the 14th SCO summit and held talks with the Tajik President. One of the items on the agenda, besides cooperation on counterterrorism, was the use of the Ayni airbase.
Indian government officials say leasing the base could be problematic. Besides Russia, concerns could also be raised by Pakistan and China. The airbase is just a half-hour flying time away from the Tajik-China border. Tajikistan has no land boundary with Pakistan, the two countries are separated by Afghanistan's narrow Wakhan Corridor, but the prospect of an Indian airbase in its rear has raised alarm in Pakistan. In recent years, Pakistan has worked hard to dissuade Tajikistan from the airbase lease. In 2012, Pakistan offered to reactivate two other disused airbases and offered free training for the Tajikistan Air Force.
India and the Indo-Pacific
(Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute blog; issued August 10, 2015)
Australia is offering India a renewed geostrategic embrace and an economic deal—notable efforts by Canberra to strengthen geostrategic convergence with India and to deepen geo-economic linkages.
The bilateral effort with India feeds the regionalist understanding expressed in the ‘Indo–Pacific.’ The Indo-Pacific is both in view and under construction.
The two elements at the forefront of Canberra thinking about India for 2015 are:
The endorsement of the Indo–Pacific as the reigning geographic construct in the Abbott government’s Defence White Paper.
Negotiation for an Australia–India free trade deal—a Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement. Australia’s aspiration is to clinch the deal by the end of 2015.
Coming over the horizon first is the White Paper. By embracing the Indo–Pacific in the policy statement, the Abbott government will be cementing a bipartisan position with Labor, which made the Indo–Pacific central to its 2013 Defence White Paper.
On taking office, Abbott quickly sunk the other idea embraced by Labor under Julia Gillard—the Asian Century. So, Labor’s Asian Century White Paper gets the flick while a key thought in Labor’s Defence White Paper lives to serve another government.
Seen through the Canberra bureaucratic prism, this is a conceptual win for Defence over Treasury. It was Treasury, under Rudd and Gillard, that really started using the phrase Asian Century—putting it in the Treasurer’s mouth in the budget speech—and using it to predict internal changes for the Australian economy. And it wasn’t a Foreign Affairs heavy but the former head of Treasury, Ken Henry, who ran the Asian Century inquiry for Gillard.
Policy fashions matter greatly in Canberra. And Defence was unhappy during the brief fashion ascendancy of the Asian Century as concept-of-the-moment. In fact, Defence wouldn’t use the Asian Century nomenclature—continuing to talk about the Asia–Pacific.
Why so unfashionable? What the Asian Century conceivably left out—the US—gave Defence a combination of cold sweats and conniptions.
Australia, Japan and plenty of others built the Asia–Pacific model because it gives an explicit role to the United States. It aligns Australia’s strategic and economic interests. To shift from the Asia–Pacific Century to the Asian Century is to reframe the power equation and the hierarchy. All this matters for politics and government, for bureaucracy and the chattering classes.
In the zero sum way they do this at Russell HQ, Defence saw the Asian Century as counting down the US alliance. Zut alors!
As the French would advise, if you suddenly become unfashionable with the old look, go get another fashion. If the Asia–Pacific was so last century, then the Indo-Pacific can look like the 21st century future.
Defence loved the Indo–Pacific as its very own counter-fashion. Now Defence has sold it to both Labor and Coalition governments. Bipartisan agreement and bureaucratic victory make for a sweet combination. The Indo–Pacific will be one continuity—a still-prevailing fashion—shared by Labor’s 2013 White Paper and the Coalition’s 2015 rethink.
More than bureaucratic manoeuvre and bipartisan compromise, the Indo–Pacific might even be a good idea. It widens the understanding of the emerging power structure and is a particular acknowledgement of India’s future role. The history of the Asia–Pacific as a concept meant it could be seen as overlooking or even excluding India. The Indo–Pacific is an explicit endorsement of India’s place in an enlarged system.
The problem for Defence is to relate its big, new, geopolitical concept to force structure and strategy—the meat and drink of a White Paper. Defence has to cut a strategic suit that bears some faint relationship to its new fashion. Expect a slight tweak to the lapels.
India-Australia drills targeting submarines seen rattling China
By Natalie Obiko Pearson and N.C Bipindra, Bloomberg News
11:20 am, August 26, 2015
NEW DELHLI — India and Australia will focus on anti-submarine warfare in their first ever joint naval exercises, signaling a growing strategic relationship to counter China's increased activity in the Indian Ocean.
The war games starting Sept. 11 off India's Visakhapatnam port in the Bay of Bengal will include exercises to protect a tanker from a hostile attack submarine. The area is near waters where China deployed a nuclear-powered submarine for the first time last year, as well as the Sri Lankan port where another unit surfaced twice. That caused a diplomatic uproar.
There's the "potential for increased security tensions in the Indian Ocean," said Captain Sheldon Williams, defense adviser at the Australian High Commission in New Delhi. "We sit right in the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans. We have a significant responsibility for its security. That's how we're looking at it now."
The drills -- first discussed a decade ago -- come as global powers vie for greater influence. The Indian Ocean's sea lanes account for nearly half of the world's container trade, including 80 percent of China's oil imports.
"We're seeing a genuine power play in the Indian Ocean," said Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University in Canberra. "Indian security cooperation with the U.S. and its allies is increasing, which rattles the Chinese."
Australia is dispatching Lockheed Martin's P-3 anti- submarine reconnaissance aircraft, a Collins submarine, tanker and frigates, Williams said. Among assets India will deploy are Boeing's P-8 long-range anti-submarine aircraft and a locally manufactured Corvette, said navy spokesman Captain DK Sharma.
A month later in the same waters, India and the United States will conduct drills that U.S. Ambassador Richard Verma described as the most complex yet between the two nations. Japan has been invited to join.
China made strides into a region India considers its traditional sphere of influence, building ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and an oil pipeline to Myanmar's coast. President Xi Jinping has also lobbied the Maldives, Seychelles and Sri Lanka to join a maritime version of his Silk Road trade rejuvenation project.
Most alarming for India, though, has been China's deployment of submarines near its shores. A nuclear-powered submarine patrolled the Gulf of Aden on a two-month anti-piracy mission last year, according to Indian media reports citing an advisory from China's Foreign Ministry to India's embassy in Beijing.
A Chinese submarine also popped up in Sri Lanka's Colombo port for "replenishment purposes" in September and November. India says another Chinese submarine docked in May and July in Pakistan.
Those moves are prodding Prime Minister Narendra Modi to align India more closely with the U.S. and a "rules-based" approach for maritime security. That order's threatened by China's attempts to assert territorial claims in the South China Sea with the construction of artificial islands and runways.
While Australia doesn't take sides in the South China Sea dispute, it's concerned about China's land-reclamation activities, Williams said. "Certainly, the tension that that causes is not good for anyone, particularly the potential militarization of those areas," he said.
China doesn't appear to be backing off. Beijing's leaders want to complete a free-trade deal with Sri Lanka by year's end and announced more than $350 million in aid money last month.
"India alone cannot assure the security of the Indian Ocean, even if it regards the Indian Ocean as its backyard," the China Daily said in an editorial. "If the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate China and the U.S., so is the Indian Ocean to accommodate India and China."
‘Indian Machiavelli’ Urges Confronting China
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr. on November 12, 2015 at 4:40 PM
US and Indian officers
WASHINGTON: Forget Gandhi and satyagraha. India needs to be more strategically assertive and take China on, a longtime national security advisor to New Delhi said today. And if the US doesn’t like it, then “screw you.”
But Washington should like a more aggressive India, said the American-educated Bharat Karnad, because it’s the only thing that can hold the line against a rising China.
“A very strong, pugnacious India is going to help you guys in some sense breathe easy, which you won’t be able to do otherwise,” Karnad told me after his remarks this morning at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“How are you going to manage China? You can’t without India’s help,” Karnad continued. “They’re rivaling you and very soon… they’re going to take you apart, [because] you don’t have the resources anymore to have even 12 carrier task groups.” (The US currently has 10 carriers, with an 11th being completed, leading to potential gaps in carrier presence in key regions).
India can be particularly helpful in the South China Sea, Karnad said, where Chinese territorial claims overlap almost every neighboring countries’ and where Beijing is building bomber-capable airstrips on artificial islands. In fact, the South China Sea is the one area Karnad thinks the Indian government is being almost assertive enough already.
“The Indian government has finally found a voice,” he told the Carnegie audience I asked about the South China Sea. Just months ago, India signed a security cooperation agreement with the Philippines — the biggest target of Chinese provocations — and Indian warships regularly visit Philippine ports. India is building ties with Australia, Singapore, and Thailand. In addition, “we have a burgeoning relationship with Taiwan,” he said. “The Chinese seem to be aware of it and they’re getting increasingly worked up.”
Overall, “we are beginning, I think, to appreciate that we need to be more vocal and more visible in our support of the Southeast Asian nations who have in the past looked to India and been frustrated,” Karnad said. “We’re a lot more active now. That doesn’t mean we’re going to go full pell-mell proactive — we should — but we’re getting there.”
But, I asked Karnad after the panel, aren’t there limits on what the Indian navy can really do in the South China Sea? “They’re essentially self-imposed,” he said. For example, the military’s old “Far Eastern Command” was renamed the “Andaman Command,” after islands in the Indian Ocean, a mental pull-back from the Pacific. The command needs its old name back, a new attitude, and, on top of that, bases in Vietnam.
What about the Chinese? “The Indian navy is very confident that the Chinese aren’t there yet and won’t be there any time soon, for the next 15 to 20 years,” Karnad told me, “but we have to look beyond 15, 20, 25 years.”
True, the Chinese navy already has an aircraft carrier, he said, “but you know having a boat is not enough. You have to be able to integrate a carrier into fleet operations. That takes a long time. It took the Indian navy about 30 years.”
“As far as I know, no combat aircraft has actually flown off a sailing carrier, a Chinese carrier,” Karnad said. To the contrary, he said, Chinese pilots are still crashing regularly when they try to land on a simulated carrier deck ashore — something much shorter than a conventional runway but still far more manageable than the rolling, pitching deck of a ship.
Nevertheless, Karnad considers China the No. 1 threat to India in the long-term. It’s not Pakistan, with which India has fought at multiple wars, declared and otherwise. Pakistan lacks the economic base to sustain a military that can threaten its much larger neighbor, he argued. India would do better reaching out to Pakistan and reopening trade along British-era rail lines and co-opting Islamabad instead of confronting it.
“We fixate on the wrong threat… looking in the wrong way at Pakistan when the real threat is China,” Karnad told the audience at Carnegie. As a result, “you really do not have the kind of capabilities to thwart and deter China from the larger design of containing India.” Karnad’s referring to China’s so-called “string of pearls,” a series of agreements and investments in countries from East Africa to Sri Lanka to Burma.
Yet Indian strategists still focus on Pakistan, “which is not a threat, cannot be a threat, was never a threat….despite having nuclear weapons,” he said. Pakistanis are smart enough to know that the “exchange ratios” come out badly for them in a nuclear war, Karnad told the Carnegie audience, which didn’t seem particularly reassured.
Overall, the gleefully provocative Karnad got a lot of nervous laughter at Carnegie, with his American fellow-panelists smiling and wincing by turns. It was a fascinating view inside the mind of a leading Indian hawk.
His new book, Why India Is Not A Great Power (Yet), contains plenty of suggestions that are sure to give official Washington heartburn. India, he argues, should resume nuclear testing and abandon its doctrine that it won’t use nuclear weapons first, allowing instead for preemptive strikes. It should put nuclear demolition charges in the Himalayan passes to close them in case of Chinese invasion (the two countries have a decades-long border dispute that led to war in 1962). It should base nuclear-missile submarines in Australia, if the Aussies could be trusted not to share too much intel on the subs with the United States. It should arm Vietnam and Tibetan rebels against China.
Left to right: Daniel Markey, Richard Russow, Lisa Curtis, Bharat Karnad
“It’s fascinating,” said Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow Dan Markey. “[Would] an aggressive, even a pugnacious India….serve American strategic purposes?” he asked. “Right now I don’t have an answer. What I know is, it would make us profoundly uncomfortable.”
“A big part of why America has been so eager to partner with India… is because it sees none of that pugnacity or aggressiveness,” Markey continued. The idea of India as essentially peaceful made it possible for President George W. Bush to lift sanctions imposed on New Delhi for its 1998 nuclear tests and sign a deal on civil nuclear cooperation, for example. An India that stirred up trouble in its region, he said, could easily alienate Americans.
“It’s a complete rejection of a kinder, gentler India,” said Carnegie scholar Ashley Tellis, “the kind of India that seems to win praise, especially among Western audience.”
Western praise doesn’t count much for Karnad. “We hinder ourselves, hamper ourselves, trying to be a quote ‘responsible state.’… trying to gain brownie points from other states,” he told the Carnegie audience.
He was even blunter with me after the panel. “India should be disruptive in its policies. Screw the goddamn status quo in every way,” Karnad said. True, if India starts testing thermonuclear weapons, Washington will “go apocalyptic,” he acknowledged. “Who cares? We should say, ‘screw you buggers.'”
Karnad is writing as a kind of “Indian Machiavelli,” Markey said, “whispering in the ear of the Prince” with truths others don’t dare say. It’s “useful and provocative.”
That said, Markey went on, it’s unlikely the New Delhi establishment will take Karnad up on his suggestions. “Is it even remotely conceivable that the India that we actually live with could become the India you’re describing?” he asked Karnad. “My bet is no.”
But Indian policy is changing, even if not as radically as Karnad would like.
“Prime Minister [Narendra] Modi is moving in this direction,” said another panelist, former State Department and Hill staffer Lisa Curtis. “He’s pursuing a much more assertive foreign policy and a more courageous foreign policy than his predecessor, Manmohan Singh.” Modi has visited the US twice, hosted President Obama once, visited neighbors like Sri Lanka, Mauritius, and the Seychelles, and built up trilateral military cooperation among the US, India, and Japan.
The question is whether this movement will continue in a consistent fashion. “This is a book that I think in a sense reflects a lot of my frustration over the last 30-odd years in Delhi,” said Kanard, who’s advised the Indian prime minister’s office, foreign ministry, and armed forces over the decades. He notably served on India’s first-ever National Security Advisory Board, convened by the Indian National Security Council to draft a doctrine on nuclear weapons — which, Karnad grumbled, the politicians then threw out “for no reason I can fathom” in favor of a simplistic principle of massive retaliation.
“India has been lacking in strategic vision,” Karnad lamented. With constant turf wars among the 72 government departments and a deep-seated distrust of military professionals, he said, “all decisions are ad hoc….so we are shooting off in all directions without the kind of impact we should have had.” That is the fundamental reason, he said, that India has not realized its potential to be a great power — yet.
You're kidding yourself Mr Kanard. India can't even figure out how to buy 36x Rafales. Strategic partner? Yeah, right..
And America 'only' has 10 carriers in service with an 11th in build? That's 9-10 more than anyone else in the world...
India, Malaysia to deepen defence ties, set up Su 30 forum
By Manu Pubby, ET Bureau | 24 Nov, 2015, 01.29AM IST
The two countries have decided to set up a ‘Su 30 forum’, a joint platform that will exchange information on training, and technical support of the fleet.
NEW DELHI: India and Malaysia plan to exchange notes on exploiting common military platforms and upgrading joint training exercises as part of a new thrust in defence relations agreed upon during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Kuala Lumpur.
While India has in the past trained Malaysian air force pilots on the Russian Su 30 fighter aircraft that is operated by both nations, the two countries have now decided to set up a 'Su 30 forum', a joint platform that will exchange information on training, maintenance and technical support of the fleet.
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The potent Su 30 fighter - India flies the customised MKI version while Malaysia operates the MKM variant - is being operated in the largest numbers by the Indian Air Force that will eventually get 272 of the jets.
"We have considerable experience on the fighters and have operated them in all conditions. We can share our experience on things like maintenance as well as flight safety with Malaysia," an air force official told ET. Maintenance expertise as well as spares developed by state-run Hindustan Aeronautics could also be shared with Malaysia, he said.
Besides the Su 30 forum, the two nations have decided to upgrade joint exercises under the Harimau Shakti series.
The war games will be progressively upgraded in the coming years to eventually become a tri services exercise involving the army, air force and navy.
Learning from the experience of the missing MH 370 airliner that escaped vigilance before disappearing, India and Malaysia will also form a joint mechanism to share information for humanitarian assistance, disaster relief as well as merchant shipping traffic. Besides regular dialogues between the defence ministers and senior military officials, from now on the annual India-Malaysia Defence Cooperation Meeting will be held at the defence secretary level.
India and Pakistan To Resume Peace Process
Agence France-Presse 4:19 p.m. EST December 9, 2015
(Photo: AFP/Getty Images)
ISLAMABAD — India and Pakistan agreed to resume high-level peace talks on Wednesday, according to a joint statement that signaled a thaw in tense relations between nuclear-armed neighbors that have fought three full-scale wars.
The breakthrough came at the close of a regional conference in Islamabad attended by India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj, which also saw Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif meet in a bid to revive the Taliban peace process.
“Both the countries have agreed to resume the stalled talks,” said Swaraj, who met with Sharif and his foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz.
“We will start the dialogue process from scratch,” Swaraj added.
The dialogue will cover peace and security as well as territorial disputes, including over Kashmir, a Himalayan region that has seen India and Pakistan fight two wars since gaining their independence from Britain in 1947.
Delhi suspended all talks after Islamist gunmen attacked the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008, killing 166 people. The attacks were later found to have been planned from Pakistan.
The countries agreed to resume the peace process in 2011 but tensions have spiked over the past two years, with cross-border shelling over the disputed border in Kashmir claiming dozens of lives since 2014.
A brief meeting between Sharif and his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi on the sidelines of the UN climate change summit in Paris on Nov. 30, followed by talks between the two countries’ national security advisers in Bangkok, appeared to have broken the ice.
Pakistani opposition lawmaker Sherry Rehman, a noted foreign policy expert, said the agreement was “important” but expressed disappointment that the dialogue would start from scratch — a demand she said likely came from the Indian side.
“The good news is they’ve agreed to resume what they call ‘comprehensive dialogue’ and really all the subjects are the same,” she said.
Rehman said it was unlikely the deal had been made without the approval of Pakistan’s all-powerful military, which ruled the country for around half its history and is widely seen as setting the country’s foreign and security agenda.
“I’m assuming they’ve had a discussion and come to some agreement,” said Rehman.
Neither side, however, mentioned whether a proposed cricket series in December and January would go ahead — an omission that Pakistan’s cricket chief said meant the plan was much less likely to happen.
On Wednesday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Islamabad in an effort to jumpstart peace talks with the resurgent Taliban, as he and Sharif inaugurated the regional Heart of Asia conference.
Sharif welcomed Ghani at the airport in a red-carpet reception with a guard of honor and 21 gun salute, in what was seen as an attempt to thaw frosty ties between the two Muslim neighbors.
Ghani’s visit came as at least 37 people were killed in a Taliban siege at an airport in the southern Afghan city of Kandahar, with analysts noting the “familiar pattern” of the insurgents launching large-scale attacks “whenever there is talk about peace talks.”
Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have foundered since the Taliban confirmed in July that its founder Mullah Omar was dead, a revelation that scuppered nascent negotiations between Kabul and the Islamist movement.
Ghani subsequently blamed Pakistan for a surge in Taliban attacks inside Afghanistan, accusing Islamabad of sending “messages of war.”
But on Wednesday, both leaders vowed to fight militancy and extremism in the region.
Their meeting was seen as a strong signal that they are attempting to revive the Taliban talks, brokered by the Pakistani army, which has long wielded influence over the insurgent group.
Ghani also met with Pakistan’s military chief Raheel Sharif, who assured him of the military’s “continued full support”, according to an army statement.
“I strongly reiterate our commitment to a lasting and just peace within which all movements that resort to arms convert themselves to political parties and participate in the political process legitimately,” said Ghani.
Pakistan later said the United States supported the talks, while the foreign minister for regional heavyweight China also backed the process after meeting Ghani, Sharif and a US official at the conference.
“The Chinese side ... hopes that the Afghan government will overcome difficulties and stick to the peace talks with the Taliban,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying by Chinese state media.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
Carter, Parrikar Pledge Expanded US-Indian Relations
By Aaron Mehta and Vivek Raghuvanshi 10:57 a.m. EST December 12, 2015
Secretary Of Defense Ash Carter
(Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON and NEW DELHI — The military relationship between India and the US is poised to grow over the coming year, with military exercises expanding as a number of technology transfer programs enter a higher level.
Speaking at the Pentagon on Dec. 10, US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar pledged that the next year will see the relationship continue to expand, including India's return to the Red Flag military exercise, its first participation in eight years.
"The pace is picking up. We've done so much more in the last year, probably than we've done in the 10 years before that," Carter said. "And I'm guessing that in the next 10 months, we will do yet again more than we've done in the last year."
That includes taking technology transfer programs from agreement into application.
The core of the technology relationship is the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative (DTTI), a specialized program launched in 2012 — brought to fruition by Carter, then deputy defense secretary — to develop those ties.
Parrikar said the two nations are "doing more than walk the walk" on technology transfer, saying the DTTI "will definitely result in a great deal of things coming out in the next six, seven" months.
"The objectives are clear. We are already concluded on two of the items. There were six on the [plan]. Two more are in the final stages. But many more are coming," Parrikar said. "And I think this initiative with a timeline of six months, we will see so many defense initiative technology transfers [and soon] US companies setting up production facilities in India."
Parrikar's visit included discussion on two key technologies India is seeking: engine technology for its proposed homegrown advanced medium combat aircraft (AMCA), as well as an electro-magnetic aircraft launch system (EMALS) for the proposed indigenous aircraft carrier INS Vishal.
While the AMCA is still on the drawing board, availability of a higher thrust advanced engine would kick-start the program. India plans to build medium combat aircraft similar to the Dassault Rafale, which it is buying from France, said a senior scientist of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), which is developing AMCA.
The US has already offered India an EMALS for the deck of its proposed homegrown carrier, capable of launching fifth generation fighter aircraft and airborne early warning aircraft.
India, Russia and China operate carriers using the less advanced short take-off launch system. With an EMALS-equipped launch system, India's naval strike fighters would encounter less strain on their airframes and be able to conduct sorties faster.
This is not the first time the two sides have discussed these technologies; there have been three previous meetings on the jet engine technology and four on the EMALS, a MoD source said.
During a June visit to New Delhi, Carter announced the finalization of agreements to co-produce two new technologies: a chemical-biological protective suit and portable field generators. The agreements are not costly, with the US and India each kicking in $500,000 total over two years on each project.
At the time, analysts praised the agreements, less for the size and more because they represented movement between the two nations on technology co-production.
However, Nitin Mehta, a New Delhi-based defense analyst, was skeptical that joint cooperation in high-tech projects between India and US can take off in the near future.
"It is too early to expect co-development and co-production of advanced weapons systems, and the two countries will have to begin with low-end weapon technologies to learn how the DTTI will work on the ground," Mehta said.
And small technology programs are not enough to advance US interests in the region, according to Ashley Tellis, with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
"Enabling New Delhi to sustain a competitive operational advantage over Islamabad and Beijing in military terms should therefore become the new functional objective of U.S.-Indian defense cooperation," Tellis wrote in a Dec. 10 analysis posted on Carnegie's website. "This aim comports with larger U.S. grand strategy and would breathe new life into and offer new direction for security cooperation more generally."
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US to help India develop engine for Gen-5 fighter
New Delhi eyes US-designed catapult launch system for planned second aircraft carrier
Ajai Shukla | New Delhi
December 12, 2015 Last Updated at 00:15 IST
On Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's first official visit to the United States from December 7-10, Washington has signalled its willingness to co-develop with India an aircraft engine for India's indigenous fifth-generation fighter that is called the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA).
India's Defence R&D Organisation (DRDO) believes it essential to work with US company General Electric Aviation (GE) in up-rating its F-414S6 engine into the so-called F-414 Enhanced Engine, which would power the futuristic AMCA.
As Business Standard reported earlier (June 1, "Carter to face Indian demand for engine technology"), GE has been eager to partner DRDO in this lucrative project. But the US government had earlier stood in the way, reluctant to transfer to India strategic technologies, such as the high-melting-point alloys needed to build the gas turbine.
During Parrikar's visit, Washington signalled that it has changed its mind. "Secretary (of Defense Ashton) Carter informed Minister Parrikar that in light of the strengthening relationship between the United States and India, the (US Department of Defense) has updated its policy on gas turbine engine technology transfer to India. As a result of this policy update, the Secretary is confident that the United States will be able to expand cooperation in production and design of jet engine components," says the joint statement issued on Friday by the Indian Embassy in Washington. That opens the doors for GE and DRDO to work together in uprating the F-414S6 engine, which India has already selected for the indigenous Tejas Mark II. This will enhance the current engine's peak power of 90 KiloNewtons (KN), delivering 110 KN of thrust. The AMCA's twin F-414 Enhanced Engine will thus deliver an awesome 220 KM of peak power. The green signal for co-developing this engine appears to have been given, with the joint statement saying: "Secretary Carter and Minister Parrikar look forward to US companies working with their Indian counterparts to submit transfer requests that will benefit from this updated policy."
For GE, this could be a commercial windfall, providing it an assured market for all India's indigenous fighters. This would include 100 F-404 engines for the Tejas Mark I, another 100 F-414 engines for the Tejas Mark II; and 400 F-414 Enhanced Engines for a planned 200 AMCAs.
Since an aero engine's life is about 1,500 hours, each fighter - with a service life of 5,000-6,000 hours - consumes 3.5 engines. That means GE could be supplying 700 engines for the Tejas Marks I and II, and 1,400 engines for the AMCA over their service lives. This is a sizeable share of the Indian aero engine market, which the DRDO estimates to be worth Rs 3,50,000 crore over coming decades.
Given this massive requirement, India put jet engine technology, along with aircraft carrier design, at the core of its high-technology expectations from Washington.
The joint statement issued on January 22, after President Barack Obama met Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi, agreed to "form a working group to explore aircraft carrier technology sharing and design, and explore possible cooperation on development of jet engine technology."
During his visit, Parrikar's counterpart Carter accompanied him on a visit to aircraft carrier USS Dwight D Eisenhower. Parrikar is the first Indian defence minister to visit an American carrier.
With India's first indigenous aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant, likely to be commissioned in 2018, the navy is focused on designing a second, larger, indigenous carrier that could include advanced American knowhow and technologies.
Business Standard understands the navy is opting for indigenous nuclear reactors to power the second carrier. However, the admirals are keen to incorporate an American-designed catapult launch system. A catapult allows a carrier to launch larger aircraft, more quickly, than the ski-jump that equips contemporary Indian carriers. This would allow Indian aircraft carrier battle groups to launch not just heavier fighters, but airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft, fitting with radars, that monitor and control the aerial battle space.
"Minister Parrikar and Secretary Carter commended positive discussions at the Joint Working Group on Aircraft Carrier Technology Cooperation (JWGACTC), especially in the area of Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE), and look forward to continued progress to be achieved at the second meeting of the JWGACTC in February 2016 in India," said the joint statement.
Carter, during his visit to the Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam earlier this year, became the first US defense secretary to visit an operational military command in India. With that gesture reciprocated by Carter, Parrikar became the first Indian defense minister to visit the US Pacific Command in Hawaii en route to Washington.
According to the Pentagon website, Parrikar and Carter "also discussed the importance of India's participation in US military exercises such as Malabar, Rim of the Pacific, and for the first time in eight years for India, participation in Red Flag, which Carter called 'the premier air-to-air combat exercise'."
India's Bid To Join Missile Control Group Remains Stalled
Tom Kington, Defense News 7:04 p.m. EDT March 31, 2016
(Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)
The failure of a series of diplomatic and legal efforts to solve a dispute between Italy and India over the deaths of two fishermen has left India’s bid to become a major global military player on hold, sources said.
A visit by Indian leader Narenda Modi to Brussels on March 30 for an India-European Union summit saw no easing of the standoff between Italy and India in the wake of the Asian nation’s arrest in 2012 of two Italian marines accused of shooting Indian fishermen while guarding an oil tanker.
That means Italy looks set to continue to veto India’s entry into the key Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an exclusive club which counts 34 member states and controls access to missile and UAV technology by nonmembers.
“I am not 100 percent pessimistic and I know the two countries are talking, but I am doubtful anything is moving,” said a source with knowledge of talks between Italy and India on the MTCR.
The stalemate in Brussels was revealed when Indian leader Modi and the EU issued a cautious, joint statement March 30:
"The EU shares Italy's concerns to find an expeditious solution for the prolonged restriction of liberty of the two Marines," said the statement.
"India stressed the need for rendering due justice for the families of the Indian fishermen who were killed," it added.
The dispute stretches back to 2012 to when the two marines, Massimiliano Latorre and Salvatore Girone, shot at an Indian fishing boat that approached the ship they were guarding. Indian authorities later held the Italians for shooting dead two of the fishermen onboard.
Latore was allowed to return to Italy last year after he suffered a stroke, but Girone remains in New Delhi, living at the Italian ambassador’s residence and reporting to local police.
Insisting the ship was in international waters and the shooting should not be treated as an Indian criminal case, Italy appealed to the U.N.-mandated International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, Germany, which in turn referred the case to the Hague-based Arbitration Panel.
The panel held hearings as Modi visited Brussels, and appeared to hit a stalemate as India resisted Italy’s demand to allow Girone to go home to Italy until the time the panel could decide how the case should proceed.
The hearing follows Italy's bid to put pressure on India to hand back the marine last October when it vetoed India’s membership in the MTCR group, using the rule that all new members should be approved unanimously.
India’s exclusion from the group, which was founded in 1987, has been a blow to the US, which is trying to promote India’s military standing in Asia to counter China.
“We know the US is a prime mover on this case, but the US also knows that what it can do is limited since things have been complicated by these new legal tracks involving the marines,” said the source.
One Italian analyst said that MTCR membership was crucial to India’s standing. “It is an exclusive club and is important to India because it deals with missiles, UAVs and launchers,” said Michele Nones at the IAI think tank in Rome.
“Not being part of it is important for India because it limits US exports to the country,” he added. “For the US it slows [President Barack] Obama’s wish to bring India into the US orbit. It is very irritating for both India and the US and I believe the US has talked to India about changing its outlook on the case.”
The next full plenary meeting of the MTCR is likely to be in October in South Korea, when Seoul takes over temporary chairmanship of the group.
However, discussions may take place at an interim meeting in Paris in the third week of April.
Nones said he stood behind Italy’s use of leverage at the MTCR group to push India to hand back Girone. “I am surprised Italy did not do it sooner,” he said. “India’s behavior has been incomprehensible since it insisted on treating it as a criminal case instead of accepting government-level talks. These were two military personnel doing their duty under the authority of the Italian government.”
But Nones said he saw a simple way out of the crisis that would allow India into the MTCR.
“I believe that if India let Girone go home, Italy will accept India into the MTCR,” he said. “That will still leave decisions to be made by the Arbitration Panel, but it could be years before that happens,” he added.
Last edited by buglerbilly; 01-04-16 at 07:17 AM.