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DEFENCE PSU IN RACE TO EXPORT EQUIPMENT TO LATIN AMERICA

DEFENCE PSU IN RACE TO EXPORT EQUIPMENT TO LATIN AMERICA

defNew Delhi: Buoyed by its recent success in exporting for the first time a corvette class warship to Mauritius, Garden Reach Ship Builders and Engineers (GRSE), a Kolkata-based public sector unit, is in race to export landing ship tanks (LST) and portable bridges to countries in Latin America.

 

In an exclusive interview with FE,  Rear Admiral AK Verma (retd), chairman and managing director of GRSE said, “The company is looking to expand towards the east as well as to Latin America. And we are in talks with Venezuela for the LST craft and Peru has asked them to build portable bridges for connectivity in tough terrains of Peru.”

The LST is an amphibious ship used for movement of troops and tanks etc, and the portable bridges are usually used by the army in rough terrains.

 

“As part of expansion plans we are looking at initiating a dialogue with the government to explore opportunities in the export of defence ships and technology tie-ups with Latin American, African and Gulf countries,” the GRSE CMD said, adding that tie-ups can be in both manufacturing and technology sharing.

 

The company has had the preliminary rounds of talks with the Venezuela government for its requirement of an LST and has offered its suggestions about the design of the craft. The process will take some time before anything is firmed up with the LatAm country as the concept of the design itself takes time to freeze.

 

“We have been looking out to export ships for about a year and half, however under the Modi government there is more urgency and stress on exports,” a senior GRSE officer said, while explaining fresh forays of the shipyard to foreign shores.

 

The ministry of external affairs has been pushing the country’s DPSUs to promote their wares overseas and it is under this initiative that DPSU like GRSE has been actively in talks with various countries overseas offering to build warships for friendly nations.

 

“As for the portable bridges, there was an inquiry from the government of Peru for these bridges and what we had to offer them was immediately accepted and we shall be firming up the deal very soon with that country,” officials said.

 

The company is looking at securing export orders from in the Far East, Africa and Gulf countries too. There have been has had requests from countries like Egypt, Oman for LST. Besides, it is also in the race to export two light Frigates – about 3500 tons each at a total cost of Rs 2000 crore – to The Philippines.

 

For the Philippines order, GRSE is competing with six foreign ship yards – Navantia, Spain, STX, France and Hyundai, Daewoo, and STX from Korea.

(Source: Financial Express December 23, 2014)

 

 

INDIA-RUSSIA TALKS ON TO FINALISE COPTER DEAL

 

Following the in-principle agreement reached by India and Russia for the production of Russian helicopters in India, both sides are carrying out discussions to work out the details to quickly conclude a deal.

 

Initially the helicopters will be used to cater to the requirements of the Indian armed forces and only after that will exports happen, Russian embassy officials told The Hindu.

 

This effectively means that the Utility Helicopter deal which was earlier cancelled as a global tender and changed into “Buy and Make” category under the Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP) will go the Russian way.

 

The Russian Deputy Premier Dmitry Rogozin who accompanied the Russian President Vladimir Putin to India on December 11 has said that “the understanding is to assemble 400 advanced Kamov-226T helicopters per year built by Russian Technologies in India”.

 

No partner has been identified from the Indian side for partnering and as of now it is open to both public and private sector. “Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is a major player but private sector is also part of the negotiations” sources told The Hindu. However embassy officials did not identify those private players. Defence Ministry officials said the details are being worked out.

 

On the operational front Russian choppers are known for their ruggedness and Indian Armed Forces have been using them for decades which will help in their quick integration. Russian Mi-17 choppers are the mainstay of the Indian Air Force used in diverse roles from search and rescue to VIP transport.

 

On the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft of which there was no mention in the recent joint statement, embassy officials have said negotiations to sort out the work share are going on and an agreement is likely as early as January.

 

Russian officials said that Russia is open for equal work share but stated that “Russia has problems with the Indian demand. If India has the ability to provide certain design knowhow and technologies we are open for equal work. But this may not be so as seen with the case of Light Combat Program (LCA) and the aircraft under development is a Fifth Generation program.”

 

On the new line of submarines under Project-75I, Russia is open to technology transfer and joint production of diesel-electric submarines. India has submitted its requirements and the Russian side responded with attractive options, sources said.

 

Russian officials felt that, for advanced defence equipment, India and Russia should reach a governmental agreement under the Inter-Governmental framework on similar lines that India has with the US.

(Source: Hindu December 23, 2014)

 

MYSTERY SHIP PROJECT GETS RS 725 CRORE FROM CENTRE

 

The defence ministry has sanctioned Rs 725 crore for the construction of a secret naval ship that will eventually be a part of India’s ballistic missile defence system being put in place slowly, bit by bit.

 

Under construction at the Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL), Visakhapatnam, the Ocean Surveillance Ship (P-11184) is a classified project, monitored directly by the Prime Minister’s Office. The ship’s keel was laid on June 30, 2014 and the shipyard has been given a timeline of December, 2015 to finish the project.

 

“Once ready, it will be a vessel for Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) for tracking ballistic missiles, while Navy will operate it. The vessel will be used for long range surveillance of missiles,” a source familiar with the project told Deccan Herald. Last week, the Navy, HSL and DRDO reviewed the progress made in the project.

 

Being a classified project, not many in the armed forces and DRDO are aware of the OSS in the first place. It is being run in the same manner as the Advance Technology Vessel project, which was the code name for the indigenous nuclear submarine Arihant.

Among the advanced nations, the US, which has its own theatre missile defence shield and offers it to its allies like Japan and South Korea, has such ships.

 

HSL received the first financial instalment in February 2013 and one more round is expected as the OSS’s total cost is reportedly about Rs 1,500 crore. HSL was taken over by the defence ministry in 2010 for better coordination as the shipyard undertook several secret projects including construction of Arihant and two more nuclear-powered SSBN.

The ship will be having a a long open deck with space for several tracking antennae located at the aft of the forward superstructure.

 

Designed by Vik Sandvik Design India, it has a length of 175 mt, a beam of 22 mt, a depth of 6 mt and 10,000 tons of steel are required for its construction. It has a helicopter deck and hangar with a planned complement of 300 men. Powered by two 9,000 kw engines, the vessel’s maximum velocity would be 21 knots.

 

India’s missile defence shield comprises two different systems – AAD (Advanced Air Defence) and PAD (Prithvi Air Defence) – for destroying enemy missiles within and outside the atmosphere.

 

While the AAD (endo-atmospheric system) can kill an incoming missile within a range of 15-30 km, PAD could neutralise the target missile at a distance of 50-80 km.

(Source: Deccan Herald December 23, 2014)

 

GOVERNMENT SLAMMED OVER LOW FUND FOR MOUNTAIN CORPS

 

NEW DELHI: A Parliamentary Panel has slammed the government over its failure to provide enough budgetary allocation for the creation of Mountain Strike Corps to counter China’s aggression on the East.

 

The Mountain Strike Corps to counter advances of neighbouring countries at high altitude areas has been sanctioned keeping in view the 15-year perspective plan, the panel noted.

 

“As informed, `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,” the committee observed.

 

The Committee also came to know that for raising this corps only war wastage reserves are being utilised. It seems very impractical and incongruous that a new Corps is being raised with war wastage reserves, the panel said in its report.

 

Meanwhile the Committee also observed that capable, motivated and dedicated force cannot move and fight without fuel in the vehicles and fire in its weapons.

 

The committee recommended that the Ministry of Defence 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.

 

Delayed Projects ::

The committee also pulled up the DRDO for agency’s delayed projects. The Committee noted that there were about 530 ongoing projects in different DRDO labs and out of it 136 in mission mode. Some of these include Agni IV, Agni V, Nirbhay cruise missile, K-15, Nag, Astra, AWACS, Arjun main battle tank, Tejas LCA, etc.

 

The Committee also noted that out of 44 major ongoing projects, 47 (with a outlay of more than 100 crore), there have been cost revisions and time revision in case of 8 and 12 projects respectively. Besides, 10 projects are more than 5 years old (sanctioned before 2009). Eighteen major projects (more than 50 crore) sanctioned during 10th Five Year Plan (April 2002 to March 2007), but none has yet been completed. Moreover, two of them have been closed, five awaiting closure and one under evaluation. Out of 43 major projects (more than 50 crore) initiated during 11th Five Year Plan (2007-12), none has reached completion.

(Source: New Indian Express December 23, 2014)

 

GOVT CLEARS 4 RAIL LINES ALONG CHINA BORDER

 

NEW DELHI: Four strategic places along the Sino-India border have been identified by the Defence Ministry for rail connectivity in the first phase, Lok Sabha was informed today.

 

They are Missamari-Tenga-Tawang (378 km), Bilaspur-Manali- Leh (498 km), Pasighat-Tezu-Rupai (227 km) and North Lakhimpur-Bame-Silapathar (249km), Minister of State for Railways Manoj Sinha said.

 

In a written reply, he said, “The Railway Ministry has requested the Defence Ministry to convey approval to carry out final location survey at a cost of Rs 345 crore and provide the necessary funds.”

 

The time of completion and cost, however, cannot be ascertained till completion of the final location survey and detailed geo-technical studies and consequent sanction of the project, he added.

 

To a related question, he said no strategic line along Pakistan border has been identified by the Defence Ministry in the first phase.

(Source: Economic Times December 23, 2014)

 

 

MORE TESTS IN LINE FOR NAVAL TEJAS TO GET IOC

 

Defence officials are now looking at March 2015 to conduct the critical Short Take Off Barrier Arrested (STOBAR) tests of the naval version of the LCA Tejas, after it made its maiden test flight from a mock aircraft carrier deck at Goa on Saturday. The plane had previously taken off from a regular runway for test flights. STOBAR landing includes the plane coming down on the carrier in a way where a hooked rod dangling from the aircraft’s bottom meets with a thick wire running across the breath of the runway thereby ‘arresting’ its high momentum.

 

“Currently, we will keep flying the plane for as many hours as possible until March to gather maximum data on its performance until the STOBAR tests. After the tests, the plane should get the first Initial Operational Clearance (IOC-I),” said an official from the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO). Saturday’s flight in Goa was conducted from a Shore-Based Test Facility (SBTF), which replicates an aircraft carrier’s runway with a ‘ski-jump’ at the end for the planes to take off.

 

From a carrier, planes have to be airborne within 200 metres of ground run compared to the minimum 1,000 metres of a runway on regular land air bases. Following the STOBAR tests, the LCA naval variant should progress to the weapons firing trials where missiles or rockets would be tested from the aircraft. The SBTF is based at the naval air station INS Hansa in Goa.

 

The Tejas naval version is expected to operate from the under-construction Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) being built at the Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL). On Saturday, the plane took off from the SBTF, piloted by Commodore Jaideep Malgaonkar, the chief test pilot of the National Flight Test Center. Test director commander J. D. Raturi, safety pilot captain Shivnath Dahiya, group captain Anoop Kabadwal, group captain RR Tyagi and lieutenant commander Vivek Pandey were some of the test team members present during the flight.

(Source: Asian Age December 23, 2014)

 

HOUSE PANEL PULLS UP MOD FOR LACK OF IAF SQUADRONS

 

The Standing Committee on Defence has pulled up the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for a “lackadaisical and callous approach” towards “upgradation of Air Force squadrons”, the numbers of which stand at 34 against the sanctioned strength of 42.

 

The MoD on the other hand has blamed “delay in LCA programme” as one of the major reasons for the shortfall in capability building of the IAF, besides the delay in induction of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

 

Expressing “deep regret” over the ministry’s approach, the committee’s latest report, which was tabled in Parliament last week, has warned the MoD that the delivery schedule of the light combat aircraft (LCA) “which is scheduled from June 2014 to December 2016 be stringently followed” and the panel be appraised about the same.

 

The committee’s comments — included in the 126-page report — are made against the Defence Ministry’s replies to the observations of the previous standing committee under the 15th Lok Sabha.

 

Citing that the number of aircraft “due for retirement” exceeded the rate at which they were being inducted, the MoD has envisaged that the Air Force would have 35 combat squadrons by the end of the 13th Plan period. It, however, depends on the induction of LCA and MMRCA.

 

With the planned phase-out of MiG 21s and MiG 27s, the IAF plans to induct two squadrons of LCA and five squadrons of MMRCA, besides the induction of additional Sukhoi squadrons.

 

The MoD had said that the delivery schedule for initial 20 LCA —with Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) — for series production was from April 2009 to December 2011, while that in the later configuration —with Final Operational Clearance — was between June 2014 to December 2016. However, even the first 20 have yet not been delivered to the IAF.

 

The MoD in its reply to the standing committee has also said that the 126 MMRCA would be inducted between “three to 11 years after signing the contract”.

 

The MMRCA programme, under which French Rafale was declared the lowest bidder in January 2012, has not progressed since. The committee headed by Maj Gen (Retd) B C Khanduri has asked the MoD to keep the standing committee “intimated” about both the programmes.

 

In another significant admission, the MoD in its reply has also said that the much delayed induction of the intermediate jet trainer (IJT) aircraft would be completed by 2019- 2020 in a phased manner beginning March 2014. While 18 aircraft were to be inducted in 2013-14, 38 are due in 2014-15, 58 in 2015-16 and so on.

 

But, IJTs are far from being inducted into the Air Force. While Khanduri’s phone was not reachable, Rajeev Satav, Lok Sabha MP and a member of the committee, confirmed the tabling of the report.

(Source: Indian Express December 23, 2014)

 

REALISING BENEFITS DIFFICULT UNDER CURRENT OFFSET REGIME

 

Boeing, a maker of commercial aircraft and defence, space and security equipment, is expanding its India operations and, according to official sources, a ‘big announcement’ is expected during US President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit. Pratyush Kumar, president, Boeing India, in an interaction with Arun S, explains the company’s plans and concerns. Excerpts:

 

How is Boeing taking part in ‘Make in India’?

 

Boeing is committed to ‘Make in India’. We have been making in India with our partners for two decades, but are accelerating it with PM Narendra Modi’s focus on manufacturing. We have opened a new line to manufacture sections of Chinook Heavy Lift helicopters at our partner, Dynamatic Technologies, following the launch of ‘Make in India’. Earlier, the Heavy Lift Helicopter contract was finalised with the ministry of defence.

 

How do you plan to expand your India operations?

 

Boeing has so far taken a non-equity route to partner the Indian industry, but we are also evaluating equity partnership opportunities. Boeing has been working with aerospace suppliers in India for over two decades in manufacturing, IT and engineering services, and has invested considerably in supplier development, training, tooling, and quality systems at these companies. Today, we have over 18 suppliers with world-class capabilities in aerospace manufacturing providing parts and assemblies covering commodities such as aerostructures, wire harness, composites, forgings, avionics mission systems, and ground support equipment. Since 2008, Boeing’s engagement with suppliers has increased substantially for commercial and defence aircraft such as the 777, 787, P-8, F/A-18, F-15, and CH-47 Chinook. Boeing, in partnership with TAL (a Tata enterprise), has set up a state-of-the-art factory in Nagpur where composite floor beams for Boeing 787-9, one of the most advanced aircraft in the world, are being produced. This is the first factory of its kind in India and is indicative of the complex manufacturing capabilities that Indian companies are developing.

 

Can you explain your India strategy?

 

Our business strategy has a twin focus here. First, to provide a winning platform to the country’s commercial aviation and military customers with state-of-the-art, reliable and fuel-efficient products, supported by world-class services. second, to create an ecosystem for aerospace manufacturing in India through partnerships with local companies, government enterprises and academia. Going forward, you will see Boeing accelerate its presence in India and partner Indian companies,realising Make in India for the aerospace and aviation sector.

 

Do you have concerns around India’s defence offset policy?

 

There is rising optimism since much has been done to generate positive sentiment. India’s defence offset policy was designed to catalyse the development of an indigenous defence industrial base. Boeing understands the motivation for the policy and has submitted plans to meet its requirements. However, we believe the aspects of the current offset regime actually precludes India from fully realising the benefits of the obligations Boeing and other companies have incurred. Examples: a period of performance for discharging the obligations, which results in Indian companies working on low-value, low-complexity activities; the inability of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to modify the content of proposed offset work packages or Indian offset partners based on performance; the inability of OEM Tier 1 suppliers to be fully included in discharging offset obligations; and the current Services in Abeyance order that prevents OEMs from accessing Indian IT and engineering capabilities for offsets, thereby hindering capacity building for highly engineered product manufacturing at their Indian offset partners.

 

What are key areas that need to be addressed with regards to aerospace manufacturing in the country?

 

Aerospace manufacturing is complex and requires a huge ecosystem of high technology research and development, advanced manufacturing processes, highly skilled people, services capability and much more. In India, first we need to have sophisticated engineering and software capability to support the manufacturing process. Then there is the need for frontline factory workers, who are able to do complex aerospace manufacturing.

 

Today, there is a huge supply-demand gap for trained factory-line workers and engineers. So skilling a workforce is an imperative. We are working with National Skill Development Corporation (NSDC) to address this gap and to develop vocationally trained frontline workers in advanced manufacturing. The partnership between Boeing, NSDC and Nettur Technical Training Foundation has already produced its first batch, which has been fully absorbed by one of our very own suppliers.

How is Boeing planning to cater to demand for defence equipment space, security equipment as well as airplanes in India?

 

In India, Boeing sees opportunities for attack helicopters, heavy-lift helicopters, unmanned systems and services and support. As the modernization of India’s armed forces progresses with acquisition of new platforms and upgradation of existing ones, a major focus is on ensuring operational readiness through a product’s lifecycle by means of affordable support and services. With deliveries of 10 C-17 Globemaster III airlifters to the air force and six P-8I long range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine aircraft, Boeing is ramping up services and support in India.

(Source: Financial Express December 23, 2014)

 

ASKING THE RIGHT QUESTION: TRANSFORMATION OF THE IAF

 

The Indian Air force is going through an unprecedented phase of modernisation with new platforms in large numbers being added to all the categories ranging from air superiority fighters to simple BTA for training.

 

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The Indian Air force is going through an unprecedented phase of modernisation with new platforms in large numbers being added to all the categories ranging from air superiority fighters to simple BTA for training. In the recent past IAF has gained access to versatile platforms like C-130 J and C- 17 to augment its transport fleet and fighters like SU30 MKI which undoubtedly has capabilities far superior to platforms previously owned and operated by it.

 

Sweeping Changes ::

But if you look at IAF’s prospective plans and processes underway, these additions are just the start of a true transformation from a regional force to one with global reach and capabilities. It has plans at different stages of implementation to acquire:

 

  1. French Rafael( MMRCA)
  2. Russian T-50/FGFA
  3. Indigenous Tejas in two versions( MK I & MK II)
  4. MTA(Jointly with Russia)
  5. Additional C-17

06 .Additional C-130

  1. Basic Trainer (HAL or Pilatus)
  2. IJT
  3. Avro Replacement ( Possibly Airbus C-295)
  4. AMCA( HAL Project)
  5. CH-47 Chinook
  6. AH-64 Apache
  7. Light Utility Helicopters
  8. Multiple types of UAV/UCAVs

 

And some more ::

One does not need to be an expert to realise that this list is long by all means even by standards of a large country like ours. And just when this fact starts to sink in, one realises that this is not all. The HAL’s SU30 MKI production line continues to deliver new platforms and will continue to do so for some time to come (270+ being the probable final number). Similarly it continues to augment its MI 17 fleet with new V5 version being added. In addition to these IAF has contracted for upgrade of its fleet of 51 Mirage 2000, Mig 29 and An 32s. Further plans to upgrade SU30s will have to be implemented sooner than later.

 

The Voices at other end ::

This long list of acquisitions and upgrades may on face of it seem a very essential exercise in view of rapidly changing scenario in our immediate vicinity where PLAAF is introducing new and qualitatively better platforms in large numbers, jointly producing some of them with Pakistan and possibility of simultaneous hostilities (not necessarily all out war) on both fronts more likely than ever before. These facts have been highlighted by officers’ right up to the rank of COAS IAF to highlight the need for attention and urgency to be shown towards these projects. But as a developing country we also have voices on the other extreme that demand money to be diverted from what they term as “Fancy” unnecessary projects towards more pressing needs of civil society like healthcare, education and employment generation. While such arguments/demands can definitely be disregarded for being dismissive of real threats emanating from a fragile nuclear power an one end and an aspiring super power on other, the fact that every extra Rupee spent on such acquisitions and upgrades could possibly have been spent on social welfare measures or other pressing needs and thus has an opportunity cost cannot be denied.

 

The right to ask questions ::

The previous Rakhsa Mantri with all his clean and good intentions failed to meet not only the immediate needs of the forces but also filed to chalk out a long term plan to modernize the forces. Mr Antony at one point in his tenure boasted in front of Senior Officers of armed forces that days of financial considerations restraining our acquisition programmes. The harsh reality of real world taught him a lesson and the same person had to later on in his tenure at one point admit that there was no money left for new acquisitions.

 

There is no country that can meet all the demands of its defense forces and therefore finding the balance between the aspirations of Armed Forces and what their country can afford without compromising on its national security is an ongoing process. For finding this balance it is necessary to continuously question the Armed forces as to what are essential and what all can be deferred for later. Further the forces have to find ways to meet its operational needs within the budgetary framework made available to them and cannot expect the civilian government to keep stretching the same.

 

Questions for the IAF ::

Any air force has fleet comprising of aircrafts of different specifications for eg. USAF operated a combination of F-15 and F16 in heavy n light fighter roles with light fighters larger in quantity. (Later followed by F-20 and F-35). Similarly soviets designed Su30 in the heavier category with Mig29 comprising the lower end. European countries realising the high cost involved in operating multiple types of aircraft, shifted to Multirole Aircrafts like Eurofighter & Rafael. India even today does not seem to have a well thought and declared policy on its fleet composition.

 

If we combine the estimated strength of Su30 and FGFA fleet, we realise that these aircraft taken together will comprise of roughly half of IAF’s fighter strength. Has the IAF really put thought as to whether this outcome is something it is prepared for?

 

One glaring example of IAF’s ill preparedness while inducting new platforms came to light when it was realised that it had deployed SU30s on the frontline at Jodhpur AF Base in spite of the fact that all existing facilities at the base were for MIGs and therefore could not accommodate much larger Su30s. Later reports suggested of more than normal wear n tear caused by long duration of exposure which of course were denied.

 

Further the fact remains that a vast majority of our bases are relatively near to border (and thus in turn PAF bases). This obviously is a result of shorter range of previous generation of platforms. The IAF needs to answer as to whether it is advisable to deploy much larger, capable and thus in turn expensive platforms at such bases exposing them to any pre-emptive strike in spite of them having long ranges allowing them to come from bases far behind and remain at designated petrol areas for long.

 

IAF should answer as to whether Lighter and comparatively cheaper platforms be deployed at such bases for quick reaction with losses being acceptable even if on a higher side and therefore should be inducted in higher numbers as compared to heavier platforms like Su30s and FGFA.

 

Another question that the IAF needs to answer is as to when was the last time the Figure of sanctioned squadron strength last review. The IAF continues to aspire to reach the same squadron strength although the capabilities of platforms have undergone sea changes. The amount of ammunition carried, the range, accuracy, sortie rate,mid air refueling capability etc. have changed and therefore the 40 or so squadron sanctioned strength of light fighters is very different from a force with same no of squadrons but half of it comprising of heavy fighters(like Su30 and F15).

 

Another question that the IAF needs to answer is as to how a tender to keep the squadron strength from falling in view of fast retiring MIGs and delayed Tejas ended up in shortlisting 2 of the heavier and certainly most expensive aircraft available in the market. IAF needs to explain why it needs a medium class fighter, used by its original manufacturing countries as one stop solution for all their needs, when it was inducting heavy and light category of fighters.

 

At numerous occasions in the past IAF officers themselves have pointed out the logistical nightmare they face maintaining a diversified fleet of platforms from various countries with suppliers spread almost all over the globe. It was this card that they played against HAL’s proposal for an indigenous Basic Trainer and supported Pilatus(Flaws of contract with Pilatus have later come to light again establishing the case for indigenous platforms in all categories).If IAF truly understands this issue, why can’t it restrict the types of fighters it flies.

 

Welcome Development ::

Recent reports suggest the new Def. Minister has instead of clearing the proposal of replacement of Avros , raised specific queries as to strange fact that a normal aircraft which is used mostly for ferrying high ranking officers being proposed to be replaced by a military tactical airlift aircraft with rear ramp any why is the same necessary. Although some may resent the above decision as it has the possibility of taking away private sectors golden opportunity to enter the aircraft manufacturing industry and develop a capable competitor for Public sector giant HAL, the move should be read in the right context. The people of this country in general and MOD in particular has every right to raise queries forcing IAF to explain a further addition of new platform to its transport fleet.

 

In view of the above, the MOD needs to do a careful review all such high value plans of acquisition to ascertain that the needs/requirements projected by the IAF are in sync with the changing geostrategic realities, economic strength of the economy and the new foreign policy emerging under the new government.

 

At the same time the officers of IAF need to realise that such questions are not mere bureaucratic hurdles and all proposals cannot be accepted and thus instead of feeling disappointed by them, realise that these are part of checks and balances necessary in a democratic setup. Once they realise this, they should prepare their cases thoroughly keeping in mind the financial realities before presenting them before the civilian leadership.

 

They also need to start putting more faith in the capabilities of domestic industry not only for assembly, repair and overhaul but also for new products. The IAF has for far too long been a simple receiver and thereafter operator of “off the shelf” platforms and therefore has neither the willingness ,patience and to some extent experience of holding hands of new platforms to allow their transformation from drawing board to a successful platform in squadron service. There is no denying that same is a long, painful and more often than not a frustrating process but something all professional forces around the globe undertake (e.g. JSF F-35 Project). Unless the IAF starts shouldering this responsibility, there cannot be any success in development of indigenous platforms.

(Source: Defence News December 23, 2014)

 

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