India Quietly Approves S-400 Deal Ahead of Modi-Putin Summit

India’s Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), the country’s highest government body responsible for defense procurement and final arbiter on national security issues headed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has quietly cleared the last hurdle for the intended acquisition of five regiments of Russian-made S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) last week, according to government sources.

The CCS purportedly cleared the purchase of the five S-400 regiments on September 26, The Times of India reports paving the way for the signing of a sales contract at a summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled for October 5. As of October 1, however, the Indian government has not publicly confirmed that the CCS approved the $5.5 billion acquisition.

CAATSA is a US federal law that imposed sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Russia. It includes sanctions against countries that engage in significant transactions with Russia’s defence and intelligence sectors.

However, any imposition of sanctions on India, which is now a major defence partner, could be disastrous for the bilateral relationship.

What is S-400?

It is an air defence missile system that can take down enemies’ aircraft in the sky from the surface itself.

The S-400 is known as Russia’s most advanced long-range surface-to-air missile defence system, capable of destroying destroying hostile strategic bombers, jets, missiles and drones at a range of 380-km.

The S-400 is an upgraded version of the S-300 systems. The missile system, manufactured by Almaz-Antey, has been in service in Russia since 2007.

S-400 would be like a “booster shot” in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) arm. India needs to be well-equipped against neighboring threats. Pakistan has over 20 fighter squadrons, with upgraded F-16s, and inducting J-17 from China in large numbers. China has 1,700 fighters, including 800 4-Gen fighters.

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Successful Flight Test of Prahar

Defense Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested the indigenously developed surface-to-surface tactical missile ‘Prahar’, from Launch Complex-III, ITR, Balasore, today. Range stations and electro-optical systems tracked the missile throughout its flight. ‘Prahar’ is a contemporary weapon system capable of carrying multiple types of warheads and neutralizing a wide variety of targets.

About Prahar:

‘Prahar’, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is capable of filling the gap between the multi-barrel rocket system ‘Pinaka’ and medium-range ballistic missile ‘Prithvi’. It can also engage multiple targets in different directions.

It has a length of 7.3 meters, a diameter of 420 mm and weighs 1,280 kg. It has the operational range of 150 km and a flight altitude of 35 km.

It is a solid-fuelled short-range missile fitted with the inertial navigation system.

The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, guidance, and electromechanical actuation systems with the advanced onboard computer.

It is a quick-reaction, all-weather, all-terrain, highly accurate battlefield support tactical weapon system.

Prahaar missile test fired successfully: Know what’s special about this indigenously developed weapon

India successfully test-fired its indigenously developed surface-to-surface short-range tactical ballistic missile ‘Prahaar’ from the Odisha coast Thursday amid heavy rains.

‘Prahar’, developed by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), is capable of filling the gap between the multi-barrel rocket system ‘Pinaka’ and medium-range ballistic missile ‘Prithvi’. It can also engage multiple targets in different directions, official sources said.

The test launch was successful as the missile traveled a range of 200 km before zeroing in on the target, achieving all mission objectives, the sources said.

The sophisticated missile was test-launched from launch pad-3 of the Integrated Test Range (ITR) at Chandipur near here at about 1.35 pm. It was launched from a mobile launcher, they said.

It is a solid-fuelled short-range missile fitted with the inertial navigation system, they said.

The missile is equipped with state-of-the-art navigation, guidance, and electromechanical actuation systems with the advanced onboard computer.

It is a quick-reaction, all-weather, all-terrain, highly accurate battlefield support tactical weapon system, the sources said.

Various tracking radars, as well as electro-optic equipment, were engaged to track and monitor the missile’s trajectory, they said.

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Kochi start-up makes India’s first commercial underwater drone for DRDO Lab

Kochi-based start-up IROV Technologies Pvt Ltd (EyeROV) is launching commercial underwater drones by handing over the first vehicle to Naval Physical and Oceanographic Laboratory (NPOL), a laboratory of the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). The company, backed by Kerala Start-Up Mission, oil and gas firm BPCL and the Department of Science and Technology, claims the product is the first indigenously-developed commercial underwater drone in the country.

The EyeROV TUNA is a smart micro-ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle) or underwater drone, at par with global standards, and with operational capabilities in harsh and mission-critical underwater environment. EyeROV is designed to perform visual inspection and surveys of submerged structures as a cost-effective underwater rover that works up to a depth of 100 meters. It can be e-controlled using a laptop or a joystick. A camera fitted on to the underwater drone gives a live video feed of the submarine environment. The product is equipped to perform a variety of functions, including inspection of ship hulls, fish farms, dams, port structure, and bridge foundations.

The company is bidding for various defense projects and has received its first order from NPOL, where the drone is expected to help the Laboratory in research operations. The first drone is being handed over the NPOL today (Friday, September 14) evening. The product is also useful in various underwater research operations and is expected to be sold to research institutes in this field, said Johns T Mathai, founder of the company.

The company recently got recognition from BPCL Project Ankur startup scheme and Kerala Startup Mission Idea Grant Scheme. The company has been founded by Johns T Mathai, an IIT-Delhi alumnus and Kannappa Palaniappan P (IIT-Madras). Johns has worked in Samsung R&D, Bengaluru, and Grey Orange Robotics for over three years.

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Coast Guard commissions patrol vessel Vijaya

Indian Coast Guard Ship Vijaya, the second in the series of 98 m offshore patrol vessels (OPVs), was commissioned by Defence Secretary Sanjay Mitra in the presence of Rajendra Singh, Director-General, Indian Coast Guard, in Chennai.

Designed and built indigenously by Larsen & Toubro, the OPV is fitted with advanced technology navigation and communication equipment and sensors. It is fitted with a 30 mm gun and will be fitted with a 12.7 mm gun with fire control system.

On joining the Coast Guard fleet, the ship will be based at Paradip. She will be deployed extensively for Exclusive Economic Zone surveillance and other duties as enshrined in the Coast Guard charter.

The commissioning of Vijaya will enhance the Indian Coast Guard’s operational capability to discharge its multifarious maritime tasks. The induction of this patrol vessel will give a fillip to the maritime protection of the Eastern seaboard in general and the maritime states of Odisha and West Bengal in particular, a government press release said.

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Pakistan to Emerge as World’s 5th Largest Nuclear Weapons State: Report

Our neighbor Pakistan currently has 140 to 150 nuclear warheads and the stockpile is likely to increase by 220 to 250 by the year 2025 if the current trend continues, says the latest report by authors tracking Islamabad’s nuclear weaponry.

The current estimate of 140 to 150 nuclear weapons exceeds the projection made by the US Defense Intelligence Agency in 1999, that Pakistan would have 60 to 80 warheads by 2020.

Hans M Kristensen, the lead author, is the director of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) in Washington, DC.

Over the past decade, the US assessment of nuclear weapons security in Pakistan appears to have changed considerably from confidence to concern, particularly as a result of the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons, the report said.

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Curtain Raiser: Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Exercise KAZIND 2018

Indo-Kazakhstan Joint Army Exercise ‘KAZIND’ will be conducted between the Indian and Kazakhstan Army from 10 to 23 Sep 2018 in Otar region, Kazakhstan. This is the third joint military exercise between the two countries which have a history of extensive cooperation in the defense arena. The second edition of the exercise was held in India last year.

The aim of the exercise is to build and promote bilateral Army to Army relations and exchange skills and experiences between Kazakhstan Army and the Indian Army. The exercise will also serve as a platform for the exchange of drills and procedures.

The fourteen days exercise with the Kazakhstan Army will follow a graduated continuum from orientation to a full-scale mock exercise; the aim being to achieve optimum integration among the two contingents through enhanced mutual comprehension of each other’s tactics, techniques, and procedures. The vast experience and expertise of Indian troops in counter-insurgency operations holds special importance to the Kazakhstan Army. The conduct of the joint exercise will set the stage for greater defense cooperation and consequently, will manifest in stronger ties between the two great nations.

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Government announces Regulations for Drones

Drones are a technology platform which has wide-ranging applications from photography to agriculture, from infrastructure asset maintenance to insurance. Drones range in size from very small and those that can carry multiple kilograms of payload.

As per the regulation, there are 5 categories of RPAS categorized by weight, namely nano, micro, small, medium and large.

Operational/ Procedural Requirements:

All RPAS except nano and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies are to be registered and issued with Unique Identification Number (UIN).

Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) shall be required for RPA operators except for nano RPAS operating below 50 ft., micro RPAS operating below 200 ft., and those owned by NTRO, ARC and Central Intelligence Agencies.

The mandatory equipment required for operation of RPAS except nano category are (a) GNSS (GPS), (b) Return-To-Home (RTH), (c) Anti-collision light, (d) ID-Plate, (e) Flight controller with flight data logging capability, and (f) RF-ID and SIM/ No-Permission No Take off (NPNT).

For flying in controlled Airspace, filing of the flight plan and obtaining Air Defence Clearance (ADC) /Flight Information Centre (FIC) number shall be necessary. Minimum manufacturing standards and training requirements of Remote Pilots of small and above categories of RPAS have been specified in the regulation.

The regulation defines “No Drone Zones” around airports; near the international border, Vijay Chowk in Delhi; State Secretariat Complex in State Capitals, strategic locations/vital and military installations; etc.

Operations of Remotely Piloted Aircraft System (RPAS)  to be enabled through Digital Sky Platform. The RPAS operations will be based on NPNT (No Permission, No Takeoff).

There will be different color zones visible to the applicant while applying in the digital sky platform, viz, Red Zone: flying not permitted, Yellow Zone (controlled airspace): permission required before flying, andGreen Zone (uncontrolled airspace): automatic permission.

The enforcement actions are, (a) suspension/ cancellation of UIN/ UAOP in case of violation of regulatory provisions, (b) actions as per relevant Sections of the Aircraft Act 1934, or Aircraft Rules, or any statutory provisions, and (c) penalties as per applicable IPCs (such as 287, 336, 337, 338, or any relevant section of IPC).

Going forward, the Drone Task Force will provide draft recommendations for Drone Regulations 2.0. These regulations will examine, inter alia, the following issues:

Certification of safe and controlled operation of drone hardware and software.

Airspace management through automated operations linked into the overall airspace management framework.

Beyond visual-line-of-sight operations.

Contribution to establishing global standards.

Suggestions for modifications of existing CARs and/or new CARs.

Way ahead:

Flying drones safely in India will require research and development to understand how they can be best used in India’s unique landscape. Such R&D occurs best in a market-oriented environment, which will not happen unless civilian drone use is permitted. Building profitable companies around drone use can be complicated when the core business model is illegal.

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INS Vikramaditya to be have marine hydraulic systems

INS Vikramaditya, India’s only aircraft carrier, is going to be fitted with a marine hydraulic system for the first time as part of its upgrade that will give an edge to the air-capable wing of the ship.

The systems would be fitted by Russia’s Rostec State Corporation through its subsidiary, Technodinamika.

The GS-1MF and GS-3 marine hydraulic systems are used for refueling, cleaning, and pressurization of hydraulic systems of aircraft and helicopters which form part of the air-capable wing of INS Vikramaditya.

GS-1MF hydraulic systems are used for helicopters while GS-3 are used for aircraft. The upgradation would take place in India only and would include installation supervision, commissioning and sea trials of the ship.

Technodinamika specializes in the development, manufacture, and after-sale servicing for systems and equipment for civil and military airplanes and helicopters.

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Landmark decision of Defence Acquisition Council

In a major decision, the defense ministry approved procurement of 111 utility helicopters for the navy at a cost of over Rs 21,000 crore. The ministry cleared procurement proposals worth nearly Rs 46,000 crore which included the acquisition of the helicopters. The decisions were taken at a meeting of the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) chaired by the defense minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

The Defence Acquisition Council also granted approval to other proposals amounting to around 25 thousand crore rupees. This includes procurement of 150 Indigenously Designed and Developed Advanced Towed Artillery Gun Systems for the Indian Army at a cost of around 3,365 crore rupees.

The strategic partner model is intended to enhance competition, increase efficiencies, facilitate faster and more significant absorption of technology, create a tiered industrial ecosystem, ensure the development of a wider skill base, trigger innovation and enable participation in global value chains as well as promote exports.

Under the model, the government intends to boost private sector participation and create domestic expertise in four key areas, namely, fighter aircraft, helicopters, submarines, and armored vehicles and main battle tanks.

One company would be selected for each area based on its competence, which would then tie up with the foreign Original Equipment Manufacturer selected through the procurement process, to build the platform in India with significant technology transfer.

The SP model, if implemented well, is likely to have a number of benefits for both the private sector and the larger Indian defense industry.

From the private sector’s point of view, the biggest benefit would be the opportunity to participate in some big-ticket contracts – estimated to be worth over two lakh crore rupees in the initial phase of execution ¬– which were hitherto reserved for the DPSUs and OFs.

At the same time, the model would also go a long way in bridging the long-standing trust gap between the Indian private sector and MoD, with the latter perceived to be friendlier toward public sector entities.

Strategic Partners, being private sector companies, are expected to exploit their dynamism, competitiveness, profit orientation, and exposure to the civilian sector for efficient utilization of the technology, manpower, and infrastructure developed in the process.

The model has a long-term vision of promoting India as a manufacturing hub for defense equipment thus enhancing self-sufficiency and establishing an industrial and R&D ecosystem, capable of meeting the future requirements of the Armed Forces.

Despite potential benefits, there are two concerns which need to be addressed to make SPs contribute in a meaningful and time-bound manner.

The first and foremost concern is the lack of institutional capacity and ability to guide the new process to its logical conclusion.

There is also a concern regarding the long-term viability of SPs largely due to the privileged position enjoyed by public sector entities.

Time and again, the MoD has deviated from its own promise of fair play in an award of contracts and handed over large orders to DPSUs and OFs on the nomination. It would be futile to expect SPs to make major investments if the government does not provide a level playing field to the private sector.

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BrahMos flight-tested in extreme weather conditions

Supersonic cruise missile BrahMos was successfully flight-tested under extreme weather conditions as part of the service life extension programme for the Army.

“The missile followed the designated trajectory and the key components functioned perfectly. BrahMos has again proved its all-weather capability, flying in sea state 7, with waves as high as nine meters,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The missile was fired from a mobile autonomous launcher at 10.17 a.m. from the Integrated Test Range at Balasore, Odisha.

BrahMos, a joint venture between India and Russia, has been demonstrated in various configurations in land-attack, anti-ship and from the air. The Army and the Navy have already inducted the missile, while the air-launched variant is undergoing trials.

It has a strike range of around 290 km and is described as the world’s fastest supersonic cruise missile.

About BrahMos missile:

Weighing 2.5 ton, BrahMos ALCM is the heaviest weapon to be deployed on India’s Su-30 fighter aircraft. It has been modified by HAL to carry weapons.

It is a world-class weapon with a multi-platform, multi-mission role and is capable of being launched from land, sea, and air.

BrahMos is a joint venture between the Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) of India and NPOM of Russia.

The name Brahmos has been taken from two rivers – Brahmaputra and Moskva.

The heavyweight missile, integrated with the long-range fighter, is seen as a force multiplier for the IAF.

The Brahmos cruise missiles have an effective strike range of around 290-300 km.

The land and warship versions have already been inducted by the armed forces.

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