India’s new aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant (named after India’s first carrier), has bust its budget by 600 per cent. It will now cost a whopping nearly Rs. 19,000 crore instead of the original estimate of about Rs. 3,000 crore.
The warship, India’s first home-built aircraft carrier, is presently being fitted out in Kochi and will be the Navy’s flagship once it enters service in a few years.
According to the Standing Committee’s report, three major indigenous warship programmes are collectively a whopping Rs. 29,000 crore over budget.
The three destroyers of the Project 15 class, the first of which, INS Kolkata, has just been commissioned, are about Rs. 8,000 crore over-budget. Similarly, corvettes of the Project 28 class, which are being constructed at Garden Reach in Kolkata, will cost about Rs. 8,000 crore instead of Rs. 3,000 crore.
There are several reasons why these cost and time over-runs are taking place. According to the parliamentary committee’s report, construction costs for the Kolkata Class destroyers went up because Mazgaon Docks, Mumbai, where the ships were meant to be built, was already constructing other ships. With a delay in the construction of the ships, the cost of materials went up and there was also a delay in the supply of warship-grade steel from Russia along with higher labour costs. Further, the identification and assessment of the costs of weapons and sensors was also delayed and the revised estimated was well over-budget.
Similarly, in the case of the Project 28 corvettes, there was a delay in producing indigenous warship-grade steel, the development of which became a priority because of the massive costs associated with importing this grade of steel from traditional exporters such as Russia. The new, indigenous replacement, developed by the Steel Authority of India was complex to handle and required new techniques in welding. With a further delay in conducting trials of various systems from competing firms, the overall project costs escalated because of an increase in development costs and the decision to use new, state-of-the-art systems.
Construction of the new aircraft carrier Vikrant also suffered because of the non-availability of warship -grade steel. Also, new technologies in constructing aircraft carriers had to be mastered. According to the Standing Committee Report, there was “inadequate domain knowledge” in carrier construction along with the emergence of new technological advances and new generation equipment which needed to be factored in. Most importantly, the report identifies that the government’s sanction for the complex project in 2002 came “at a time when the form & fit (of) the warship was still emerging.”
The Standing Committee Report points to glaring lapses in the pace of indigenous warship construction particularly at a time when the Chinese Navy is growing at a very fast pace by inducting an entirely new generation of destroyers, corvettes and frigates. To match this, the Indian Navy needs to desperately induct new warships at a faster pace. In 2012, the government’s Defence Acquisition Committee had approved 198 ships and submarines for the Indian Navy. The present force level is 127 ships and 15 submarines.
(Source: NDTV December 24, 2014)
OBAMA SIGNS US-ISRAEL STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP ACT INTO LAW
United States President Barack Obama has signed into law the 2014 United States-Israel Strategic Partnership Act.
The bill, meant to strengthen the US-Israel alliance, passed unanimously in the House of Representatives earlier this month, after passing unanimously in the Senate in September.
The law declares Israel’s status as a “major strategic partner” of the United States as well as Washington’s “unwavering support” for Israel as a Jewish state.
The legislation orders the expansion of US weapons stockpile in Israel by some $200 million in value, to a total of $1.8 billion, so that the Pentagon can be better prepared to conduct military operations in the volatile Middle East.
It also crucially allows Israel to use the weapons in the event of an emergency, as it did this summer during Operation Protective Edge in Gaza.
The new law will also require the Obama administration to move toward allowing Israel to be included in the top-tier category for license-free exports of certain US technologies and products.
President Obama signed the bill into law on Friday in Washington, along with a law that bars suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving Social Security benefits.
The Strategic Partnership Act also encourages the inclusion of Israel in the United States visa waiver program, if it should meet program requirements. Currently, Israel citizens traveling to the United States are required to purchase visas beforehand.
Increased cooperation between the two countries in the fields of energy, water, homeland security, agriculture, and alternative fuel technologies is also included in the legislation.
Jewish organization across the US have praised and thanks Congress for its support.
One of the bill’s authors also lauded Obama’s support of the legislation.
“I applaud the President for signing this bill to strengthen our historic relationship with Israel,” said Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who introduced the bi-partisan legislation with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO).
“This law will enhance cooperation between Israel and the United States on a wide range of issues – from defense to energy to cyber security – so we can work together to address the many challenges facing both countries.”
(Source: Israel National News December 24, 2014)
COMBAT READY? IAF DOWN TO 25 FIGHTER SQUADRONS
Painting a grim picture of India’s combat readiness, a Parliamentary panel on Monday dropped a bombshell by revealing that the force levels of the Indian Air Force are down to a mere 25 fighter squadrons. The IAF till recently had maintained it had 32-34 squadrons with about 18 planes each.
But the revelation by the standing committee on defence in a report tabled in Parliament indicates the IAF’s traditional air superiority over Pakistan may have been severely diluted.
India requires 45 fighter squadrons to counter a “two-front collusive threat,” but the panel found that the air force has only 25 active fighter units.
“Moreover, 14 of these squadrons are equipped with MiG-21 and MiG – 27 which will retire between 2015- 2024. Thus the strength will be reduced to just 11 squadrons by 2024..our capability has already come down,” the panel said.
It flagged concerns about India’s depleting military capability in the context of tackling a two-front challenge – euphemism for a combined threat from China and Pakistan.
The committee slammed the government for its failure to modernise the armed forces and asked it to take prompt measures to plug crucial gaps.
The panel noted crippling deficiencies in military equipment was fast-eroding India’s capability vis-à-vis its neighbours. The reports enumerated challenges being faced by the military ranging from inadequate number of fighter planes to shortfall of warships, missiles, tanks and even bullet proof jackets.
The panel found the navy had inducted only one submarine during the last 15 years, while it had retired five. “It’s high time that adequate budgetary provisions are made so that deficiencies are mitigated and the country is capable to take on two front challenges,” the panel said.
The panel expressed deep concerns over “critical shortages” of artillery guns and missiles. Dubbing missiles a “very crucial component” in any modern force “with a high deterrent value”, the committee said missiles should be made available to the army in required quantity. The panel was perturbed to learn that bullet-proof vests had not been bought by the defence ministry, “jeopardizing the lives of thousands of soldiers.”
The panel was surprised to note that the government was raising a mountain strike corps but no separate allocation had been made for it. “An amount of Rs. 5000 crore has been earmarked for it but it is not over and above the actual budget allocated and the Army has been asked to raise this Corps out of its own budget,” it said.
(Source: Hindustan Times December 24, 2014)
INDIGENOUS RADAR TO BE READY SOON TO TRACK SPACE
The totally indigenous Rs. 240-crore multi-object tracking radar, which was developed and built by scientists of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) and some industries of the country, will be ready for operation during the first quarter of 2015.
“The electronics, mechanical structure and radom of the radar are ready and integration of all components will start during the month-end. This is the first totally indigenous multi-object tracking radar,” SHAR-ISRO Associate Director and Project Director of the radar V. Seshagiri Rao said here on Monday.
“The new radar which will operate from Sriharikota range can track nearly 10 objects simultaneously in a distance as far as 1000 km in space, while the conventional radars spot a single object at a time. This is useful in many ways since it can detect 10 objects at a time and in case space debris is approaching an Indian satellite, the path of satellite can be diverted to avoid collision and damage,” Mr. Seshagiri Rao explained about the radar while talking to The Hindu.
“Antenna of a radar would move to track an object but in the case of the new multi-object tracking radar, its 12×6 meter antenna does not move but its electronic beam moves,” he said about the radar.
(Source: Hindu December 24, 2014)
SPACE ASSETS MUST BE PROTECTED: DRDO CHIEF
Acknowledging that security challenges are going beyond the traditional domains of land, water and air, DRDO chief Avinash Chander on Tuesday stressed the need for securing critical cyber infrastructure and space intelligence assets.
Delivering the 27th Intelligence Bureau centenary endowment lecture, Chander said “new forms of conflict and new domains of warfighting” are emerging and these challenges are giving India an opportunity to play a leading role as a stabilising force in the “hub of most turbulent region” where the country is located.
“The space which has become a dominant force in our day-to-day life, cyber space which is governing every activity, has proved to be a boon and threat simultaneously. Underwater area is emerging to be a new area of conflict because of resource control. Unmanned warfare will change the way the wars are fought and the way the security challenges are going to be handled,” he said.
Reminding that the US PRISM programme used techniques like database tapping of agencies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo and internet and mobile phone metadata tracking, to breach the security, he said India needs to make its critical cyber infrastructure “trustworthy, dependable, survivable and conforming” to the desired needs.
(Source: Deccan Herald December 24, 2014)
DR. ABDUL KALAM’S ROLE IN INDIA’S DEFENCE PREPAREDNESS HUGE
India’s defence preparedness has been boosted by the leadership provided by former President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam whose contribution has been immense in making the country strong, a top defence scientist told students of Odisha’s SOA University here on Sunday night.
Dr Kalam was the father of India’s Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP) under which the ‘Agni’ series of long-range missiles and other such weapons were given shape,’ R Appavuraj, director of the DRDO-run Proof and Experiment Establishment (PXE) at Chandipur said.
“We have come a long way, while it took the DRDO scientists months to put together the long-range missile, it could be done now in two to three days,” he said at the inauguration of “Chakravyuh-2014”, the tech-fest of the Institute of Technical Education and Research (ITER), the faculty of engineering of the SOA University.
Appavuraj also praised the Central government’s “Make in India” campaign describing it as a game changer which was providing direction to the nation.
The inaugural function, which marked a fiery display by the Aagni Group and a delectable Odissi dance performance by exponent Aruna Mohanty, was also attended by two other speakers, Sadashiv Padhee, vice-president (HR) of Kiroskar Pneumatic Co Ltd who was the chief guest and DP Das, deputy general manager (HR) of L&T Construction who was the guest of honour.
ITER’s Dean, Dr PK Sahoo and Additional Dean and convener of the tech-fest Dr RK Hota also spoke.
(Source: Odhisa Sun Times December 24, 2014)
PARLIAMENTARY PANEL RAPS DEFENCE MINISTRY FOR LAPSES
New Delhi: Parliament’s standing committee on defence has lambasted the government for having failed to provide the army with funds and much needed equipment. There is also sharp criticism at the ministry of defence (MoD) for having refused to provide the committee with information it had requested.
In a report titled ‘Demands for Grants (2014-15) – Army’, one of five it presented in the Lok Sabha on Monday, the committee paints a picture of an army without adequate artillery guns, tanks, missiles and basic combat essentials like bullet-proof jackets and ammunition.
The committee, headed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member and former Uttarakhand chief minister, BC Khanduri, notes: “The Committee finds the entire scenario very discouraging and does not find any reason with the MoD and the ministry of finance for curtailment in the budget of the Army… Therefore, the committee recommends that the MoD should allocate the amount to the Army as per its projections to buy new weapon system and creating infrastructure for the Army so as to keep its fighting spirit high and ready to move in any eventuality (sic).”
Working under Khanduri in the committee is an unusually heavyweight set of 21 Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha members. These include prominent BJP MPs like Murli Manohar Joshi; Hindutva champions Vinay Katiyar and Tarun Vijay; pro-military activist, Rajeev Chandrashekhar; former prime minister HD Deve Gowda; former Congress chief minister Amarinder Singh and cabinet minister Ambika Soni.
The MoD has long regarded meetings of the standing committee as a chore, keeping senior bureaucrats away from their desks. Unlike standing committees in, say, the United States, sworn to secrecy and presented with classified information, the MoD routinely up-ends the notion of parliamentary oversight and cites “national security” to avoid answering awkward questions.
The current committee tersely states it is “dismayed over the fact that while replying the Ministry tried to conceal even overt information, which is unacceptable to them (the MPs).”
On the continuing shortfall of 186,138 bullet proof jackets that were sanctioned in 2009, the report notes: “The Committee is perturbed over the fact that such an important life saving device has not been purchased by the Ministry, jeopardizing the lives of thousands of soldiers… They are not happy over the state of affairs in the Ministry where such an important purchase could not be materialized even after a lapse of five years.”
While India has fought shy of officially naming China as the reason for raising a new Mountain Strike Corps (MSC) of 60,000 soldiers, the committee leaves little to doubt. The report disguises China as “@@@”, but the context makes things clear.
It quotes the Vice-Chief of Army Staff (VCAS), who briefed the committee, that the decision to raise an MSC “started with our analysis of the threat perception after 15 years and in that analysis a retired major general, it was predicted that the way @@@ has been getting more aggressive in resolving its disputes with neighbours, especially, in view of what we have seen with its maritime disputes in the South China Sea, it was our attempt to make sure that we are fully prepared to deal with this threat if at any time @@@ decides to raise the ante and get more aggressive (sic)”.
The report reveals that two mountain divisions (about 35,000 soldiers) were raised in the 11th Plan to plug gaps in our defences; while the MSC will now be raised.
The committee sharply criticises the defence ministry for making neither funds nor equipment available for the new MSC. The VCAS is quoted saying: “We have dipped into our War Wastage Reserves (WWR)”, which is actually equipment kept in reserve for wartime.
While the MSC will cost Rs 67,000 crore over a period of seven years, the VCAS has told the committee no additional money has been allocated for this. He says: “We are not getting additional budget. A certain amount of about Rs 5,000 crore has been set aside saying that this is meant for the Mountain Corps. But this is not over and above the budget. So, we need money over and above the budget if we are able to make up all the stores and weapons which we have pulled out from the War Wastage Reserves for the initial raisings.”
Criticising this, the committee notes: “It seems very impractical and incongruous that a new Corps is being raised with war wastage reserves. The Committee feel the ministry should do away with its proclivity of ad hoc planning and provide adequate budgetary support commensurate with the requirement of Mountain Strike Corps (sic).”
(Source: Business Standard December 24, 2014)
AS WORLD TURNS ITS BACK ON ISRAEL, A SURPRISING ALLY EMERGES IN INDIA
With the EU moving farther away from its traditional support of Israel, it seems as if the Jewish state is finding a new ally in an uncommon place.
According to The Hindu newspaper, India is considering moving away from supporting the Palestinian cause at the UN, Indian government sources said.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is looking to move his foreign policies regarding the Palestinians to a state of abstention, the two sources claimed.
“Like other foreign policy issues, the Modi government is looking at India’s voting record at the United Nations on the Palestinian issue,” one of the sources explained. The second said that only an “administrative nod” would be needed to confirm the new policy.
The report comes on the heels of what many observers are describing as a new age in Israeli-Indian relations. Since coming to power in May, Modi has met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu several times leading to a significant warming in relations.
Last week, in honor of the Hanukkah holiday, Modi published a holiday greeting in Hebrew, surprising Jews, Israelis and Hebrew speakers around the world.
Taking to Twitter, Modi “wished his Jewish friends a happy Hanukkah! Many this Festival of Lights and the festive season ring in peace, hope and well-being for all.”
In September, Netanyahu and Modi met for the first time, marking a historical moment in which any Israeli and Indian premiers met in over a decade.
“We are very excited by the prospects of greater and greater ties with India,” Netanyahu told reporters. “We think the sky’s the limit.”
Along with a warming of diplomatic relations, Israel and India are also engaging in new trade, defense, security, technological and cultural relationships. “Israel and India are at the cusp of a new era of increased cooperation in a wide variety of fields,” Netanyahu said while on a trip to Singh on November 6.
Last month, the two countries conducted a joint missile test on an advanced system, which was hailed by an adviser to the Indian defense minister as “an important milestone in the cooperation between India and Israel.”
In October, India agreed to buy 8,000 Israeli-made Spike missiles and more than 300 launchers in a $525 million defense deal. The missiles were widely used by the IDF during Operation Protective Edge.
Military business between Israel and India is estimated at $9-10 billion.
(Source: Voice of Israel December 24, 2014)