Mil News India,Pakistan & Sub Continent Military News

India to Base Its Fighter Jets on Andaman & Nicobar Islands in Bengal Bay
The Andaman and Nicobar Islands host India's single tri-service command. Currently, fighter jets need to be flown in from the mainland, at least 1,200 km away. With the new air base on Great Nicobar, larger fighters like the Su-30MKI can be stationed on site.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – In a bid to augment its resources in the Indian Ocean Region, India's newly formed Defense Planning Council has decided to build an all-new permanent airbase on Great Nicobar Island, in addition to the present Carnic air force base on Car Nicobar Island. The airbase would be able to station larger aircraft like Su-30MKI and other combat assets.

Official sources told Sputnik on Thursday that the Defense Planning Council has ordered a feasibility study for the proposed air base on the Great Nicobar Island and has also decided to expedite the process of extending the present runway and other infrastructure at the Carnic air base and the nearby Baaz air station at Campbell Bay which is located 240 km from the mouth of the Strait of Malacca – a vital geo-strategic point which connects the South China Sea to the Indian Ocean. ...MORE
US wasted billions in failed Afghanistan stabilization program: Report
A US government watchdog has found that the United States wasted billions of dollars, purportedly trying to stabilize fragile parts of Afghanistan over the past 17 years.

The assessment has been made by Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko who presented a report in Washington on Thursday.

"Despite some heroic efforts to stabilize insecure and contested areas in Afghanistan between 2002 and 2017, the program mostly failed," Sopko said.

Sopko went on to say that Washington had set unrealistic expectations for itself and overestimated its ability to build government institutions.

"This happened for a number of reasons, including the establishment of a set of unrealistic expectations about what could be achieved in just a few years' time." ...MORE
Indian Navy commissions fourth Mk-IV LCU
The Indian navy has commissioned its fourth Landing Craft Utility (LCU) Mk-IV, IN LCU L54, in a ceremony at Port Blair on South Andaman Island.

The ceremony took place Friday and was led by Indian Navy Chief of Materiel, Vice Admiral GS Pabby.

A total of 8 vessels in the class are planned to be built for the Indian Navy. The commissioning of the third ship in the class took place in April 2018.

The amphibious ships are designed by India’s Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers and can be deployed for multi-role activities like beaching operations, humanitarian and disaster relief operations and evacuation from distant islands.

They displace 830 tons and are capable of transporting Arjun main battle tanks, T72 and other armored vehicles. The ships are fitted with an integrated bridge system (IBS) and an integrated platform management system (IPMS) and feature the indigenous CRN 91 gun with a stabilized optronic pedestal for patrolling tasks. LCU ships are capable of carrying up to 160 troops.
Afghan MPs Demand Annulment of Deal Allowing US Troops to Stay
The agreement was signed in 2014 after the inauguration of President Ashraf Ghani, permitting a portion of NATO's troops, mostly American, to remain in the country.

Members of the Meshrano Jirga (upper house of the Afghan parliament) slammed the security agreement, signed by the Afghan and US governments in 2014 as "ineffective" and called for its cancellation, Ariana News reported.

"The security agreement with the United States should come into reconsideration because the U.S. has not acted based on this accord. The issue is harmful to the country and deteriorating the security situation," Senator Qais Wakil said.

Another senator, Zalmai Zabuli, suggested that since the US can't deliver "decisive action to address the current [security] situation," Kabul should withdraw from the accord. He also added that the US was "ignoring Afghanistan's national interests" in the agreement and was pursuing only its own.

The session of the senate was devoted to the "deteriorating security in Afghanistan." Security officials of the country were summoned to comment on the issue, including on the US-Afghanistan security agreement, but failed to show up. ...MORE

India to Locally Build Infrared Tracking System for Su-30MKI
Over the last eight months, India's defense ministry has approved procurement of equipment valued at approx $6.5 billion of which $4.8 billion will be Made-in-India.

New Delhi (Sputnik) – India has decided to design and develop a long-range dual-band infrared imaging search and track system (IRST) which will strengthen the capabilities of the Su-30MKI in detecting ultra-stealthy aircraft like the F-22 and Chengdu J-20 possessed by its adversaries. Only last year, China operationalized the J-20 fighter jets which are made up of radar-absorbing materials that are supposed to make it hard to detect at long ranges.

"The Defense Acquisition Council (DAC) accorded approval for undertaking design and development of the Long Range Dual Band Infrared Imaging Search and Track System (IRST) for SU-30 MKI aircraft under the 'Make II' sub-category and subsequently, for procurement of at least 100 IRSTs under 'Buy (Indian-IDDM)' category. The system will be able to operate in day and night conditions and will substantially enhance the capabilities of the aircraft," a statement issued by Indian defense ministry reads.

The Indian defense ministry wants at least 40% domestically-produced content in the system which will be manufactured in any Indian facility. The system will be integrated into India's frontline aircraft without making any structural changes. ...MORE
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Pakistan signs for T129 attack helos


According to Turkey’s ruling party, Pakistan recently signed for 30 T129 attack helicopters. Source: TAI
Pakistan has formally signed for 30 TAI T129 attack helicopters from Turkey, it was disclosed on 24 May.

The confirmation of the anticipated sale to Pakistan was made in the political manifesto that Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Parti) has released ahead of the general election scheduled for June. The manifesto states that “a very short while ago a contract for the sale of 30 attack helicopters was signed with Pakistan”. No further details were disclosed and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) had not responded to a request for comment at the time of writing.

Pakistan is known to have evaluated the Turkish-built version of the AgustaWestland A129 Mangusta as part of an ongoing effort to procure a new attack helicopter for the country’s army. With the Pakistan Army having already ordered 12 US-built Bell AH-1Z Vipers, it had since 2014 been trialling the Chinese-built Z-10 and since 2016 the T129.

Speaking earlier in the year to Jane’s and other defence media, Pakistan Army Aviation commander Major General Nasir Shah said only that a number of platform options were being considered to augment its current Bell AH-1 Cobras, the four recently received Mil Mi-35s, and its soon to be delivered AH-1Z Viper platforms.

“Army Aviation has plans to further enhance its attack helicopter fleets, and various options are currently being considered and evaluated,” Gen Shah said on 31 January at the IQPC Military Helicopter conference in London. “The [current 32] AH-1 helicopters have provided effective close support for our ground forces engaged in counterinsurgency [COIN] operations, but they cannot be employed effectively in high-altitude operations above 8,000 ft,” he added.
Pakistan orders two more Type 054 frigates from China
The Pakistan Navy has signed a contract with M/s China Shipbuilding Trading Company Ltd (CSTC) for the delivery of an additional two Type 054A frigates.

The contract was signed at the Ministry of Defence Production in Rawalpindi with deputy Chief of Naval Staff (Operations), Rear Admiral Faisal Rasul Lodhi in attendance.

With this follow-on contract, the Pakistan Navy is set to receive a total of four Type 054A by 2021. All four vessels will be built in China.

“The induction of these ships will substantially enhance Pakistan navy’s war fighting capabilities while effectively contributing towards maritime security operations in the region,” the Pakistan Navy said in its statement.

Type 054A frigates displace 4,000 tons and are equipped with vertical launch systems (VLS), a 76mm gun, close in weapons systems and torpedo launchers.

This is not the first time Pakistan Navy is acquiring equipment and vessels from China. In 2006, Pakistan brought four Type 053H3 frigates and four Azmat-class fast attack craft in 2012.

Pakistan’s biggest order from China, however, is the acquisition of eight attack submarines reportedly worth between $4 billion and $5 billion. Four submarines would be built in China and four at Pakistan’s state-owned shipyard in Karachi.
China's Xi Welcomes India, Pakistan To SCO, Hails 'Unity'
Chinese President Xi Jinping ushered Pakistan and India into the political and economic bloc led by China and Russia as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit got under way in the northern port of Qingdao.

Xi on June 10 welcomed Pakistani President Mamnoon Hus
More member states means greater strength of the organization as well as greater attention and expectations of people of regional countries and the international community," Xi said.

Pakistan and India last year joined the economic bloc, which along with China and Russia includes Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Afghanistan, Belarus, Iran, and Mongolia have SCO observer status.

Opening ceremonies were held on June 9, while June 10 is the main working day.

Xi praised the "unity" of the SCO event, which got under way just as the Group of Seven summit in Canada was ending in what appeared to be disarray. ...MORE

US urges India to ditch Russian missiles for American ones
The United States is urging India to reconsider its plan to purchase advanced missiles from Russia and instead switch to American systems, touting the "strategic importance" of the relationship between Washington and New Delhi.

"If we want to see that continue and I think both we and our Indian friends want to do that, then it's incumbent on us to give them the best case and hopefully that will engender a willingness on the part of the Indian government to think about our systems as they go forward in their procurement," Tina Kaidanow, principal deputy assistant secretary of the State Department's Political-Military Affairs Bureau, told reporters, according to Defense One.

India and Russia reportedly concluded price negotiations for procurement of five regiments of Russian-made S-400 advanced air defense systems last month.

The final contract is expected to be signed during a summit meeting between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin in October. ...MORE
Blast in eastern Afghanistan kills 32 as Taliban reject ceasefire extension
A bomb attack has killed at least 32 people in Afghanistan's eastern province of Nangarhar amid an announcement by the Taliban militants that they would not extend their temporary ceasefire with Afghan security forces and that fighting would resume in the crisis-hit country.

The deadly explosion occurred outside the governor's office in the provincial capital Jalalabad on Sunday, reported Afghanistan's Tolo News channel, citing Najibullah Kamawal, the head of the provincial health department.

The huge blast, which also inflicted injuries upon 45 others, took place after a terrorist detonated his explosives vest in the police district one (PD1) of the city at around 3:00 p.m. local time, Kamawal added.

According to Attaullah Khogyani, the provincial governor's spokesman, all the victims were civilians.

No group or individual has claimed responsibility for the attack, but it has the hallmark of ...MORE
Taliban Breaks Afghanistan's Eid Ceasefire in Pre-Dawn Attack
A pre-dawn Taliban attack in western Afghanistan killed 30 members of government forces, the deadliest insurgent raid since a nationwide temporary cease-fire during the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr.

Local officials said Taliban Insurgents assaulted Afghan National Army (ANA) posts Wednesday in the Bala Murghab district in the Badghis province, triggering fierce clashes in the area, with both sides suffering casualties.

Provincial governor Abdul Ghafoor Malikzai told VOA the ANA lost 30 troops when a convoy of soldiers heading to the fighting zone was ambushed by Taliban fighters.

A spokesman for the ministry of defense in Kabul confirmed to VOA the clashes left 13 Afghan soldiers dead and eight others wounded.

Security officials in Badghis said Afghan forces also inflicted heavy casualties on the opposition, killing 15 Taliban assailants.

The Taliban ended its three-day ceasefire on Sunday while the government extended a unilateral week-long ceasefire, initially due to end on Wednesday, by 10 days. This was the first time in 17 years that Afghan warring sides temporarily suspended battlefield operations. ...MORE
India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the USD$1 billion acquisition of an upgraded version of the Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace/Raytheon National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System (NASAMS) – commonly referred to as NASAMS II – for the Indian Air Force (IAF) to bolster the country’s air defences over the federal capital New Delhi.

Defence sources told Jane’ s that the MoD’s Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), which is headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, “quietly” cleared the procurement of an undisclosed number of NASAMS batteries in early July via the US Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme as part of the government’s ‘Delhi Area Defence Plan’ against attacks by enemy aircraft, missiles, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

The sources said the new air-defence system will eventually supplement the long-delayed indigenous two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) shield that is in an advanced stage of development by India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The DRDO had claimed in 2011 that the BMD shield would be in place above Delhi and Mumbai by 2014; but the system is still undergoing periodic testing to validate its capability to track and destroy incoming hostile aerial targets both inside and outside the Earth’s atmosphere.

A NASAMS battery consists of up to 12 multimissile launchers, each of which can carry six AIM-120-series advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles (AMRAAMs) or other surface-to-air missiles (SAMs); up to eight AN/MPQ-64 Sentinel X-band 3D radars; up to four Fire Distribution Centres (FDCs); and up to four MPS 500 electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor system vehicles.
India’s Defence Acquisitions Council (DAC) on Saturday approved purchase of a $2-billion worth multi role helicopters for the country’s Navy through a direct government deal, according to a report by TOI.

The signing of a grant of acceptance of necessity (AoN) for 24 naval multi-role MH-60 ‘Romeo’ choppers by the Nirmala Sitharaman-led DAC comes ahead of the inaugural “two-plus-two” dialogue between India and the US on September 6.

Manufactured by Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin, the NMRH are required to replace the Sea King fleet. They are designed to detect, track and hunt enemy submarines.

The DAC also approved the over INR 21,000 crore procurement of 111 armed naval utility helicopters under the “strategic partnership (SP)” policy, which seeks to boost the Indian private sector’s role in production of advanced weapon systems in tie-ups with foreign armament majors, the report said.

The 111 twin-engine choppers will replace the ageing fleet of single-engine Chetak helicopters. The four global aviation majors in contention are Airbus, Bell, Sikorsky-Lockheed Martin and Russian Helicopters.

In addition, The DAC also approved the procurement of 14 vertically-launched short-range surface-to-air missile systems for stealth frigates and anti-submarine warfare corvettes from European firm MBDA. “Ten of these air defence systems will be produced in India,” an official was quoted as saying.
MD Helicopters, Inc. (MDHI) announced today the delivery of the first five (5) MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters to the Afghan Air Force in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Ordered against MDHI’s 5-year, $1.4 billion IDIQ, these aircraft are the first of 30 new MD 530F Cayuse Warrior helicopters that will join the AAF Aviation Unit this year. Delivered in less than 10 months from the September 2017 contract award, the first five aircraft reached Kandahar on August 8, 2018, and were readied for active service in less than 10 days.

The IDIQ Contract vehicle ensures that an estimated quantity of 150 armed MD 530F Cayuse Warrior and/or MD 530G attack helicopters are available to U.S. and Partner Nation Military Aviation Forces.

“It is an honor to deliver these first five of 30 new Cayuse Warrior aircraft to the Afghan Air Force in support of their vigilant efforts to protect their country and their citizens in the global fight against terror,” said Lynn Tilton, Chief Executive Officer for MD Helicopters, Inc. “As a proud American manufacturer of the world’s most beloved airframe, our respect for the warfighter and our commitment to delivering effective and efficient attack helicopter solutions is unmatched.”

These aircraft are the first of a new generation of MD 530F Cayuse Warriors with MDHI’s newly certified glass cockpit that includes:

  • Howell Instruments Electronic Engine Instruments and Crew Alert System (EICAS)
  • Garmin G500[H] TXi Electronic Flight Instruments (EFIS) with Touchscreen GDU 700P PFD/MFD
  • Garmin GTN 650 Touchscreen NAV/COM/GPS
  • L-3 ESI 500 Electronic Standby Instrument
Mission Equipment enhancements for the MD 530F Cayuse Warrior also consist of a ballistically tolerant crashworthy fuel system, including both the main fuel tank and a 38-gallon Auxiliary Fuel Tank.

“The MD 530F Cayuse Warrior has played a critical role in creating an effective, efficient, and sustainable air force in Afghanistan,” Tilton concludes. “It has been a proven performer in support of training and combat operations since joining the Afghan fleet, and has evolved to become the standard for light scout attack helicopter solutions worldwide.”

Remaining aircraft deliveries on this initial Contract Delivery Order are on track to be complete well in advance of the September 2019 contract date.
Seeking to bolster its Mirage-2000 fighter jet fleet, India is getting two of these at a dirt-cheap price of Rs 16 crore per aircraft from France. The two aircraft would be later upgraded to the highest standards by the HAL.

The French are offering the planes at Euro 2 million per aircraft and the cost of transporting the planes to India would be around Euro one million. So, at Euro five million (approx Rs 40 crore), India will get two aircraft with a life of 3,000 hours left in them.

The aircraft would also help in utilising the upgrade kits that had been ordered during the Mirage 2000 upgrade contract with France. India had a fleet of 51 Mirages but the number came down to 49 after the loss of two planes in quick succession around 2012-13, the sources said.
The two Mirages coming from France would help in making up the fleet strength back to 51.

India is also getting a fleet of 32 Jaguar aircraft, which are supposed to be used as spares to support the current fleet of Jaguar fighters operated by India. The 100 Jaguar aircraft strong fleet would also help in maintaining force levels and combat the delay in procuring jets beyond the 4 plus generation fighter aircraft such as Rafale due to the Congress government impeding the decision-making.

Dassault Aviation already has sent its proposal for IAF’s Tender for 110 fighter jets and have also responded to Indian Navy’s requirement for 57 carriers based fighter jet. First Rafale fighter jet is currently going through integration in France and Indian technicians and engineers are currently undergoing training in France to induct this jet in September 2019.
On Monday October 8th, Pakistan conducted a test launch of its liquid-fueled, single-stage medium-range ballistic missile, the Ghauri or Hatf-V.

Video footage released by the Pakistani military’s Inter-Services Public Relations shows a Ghauri missile successfully launching off a transporter-erector-launcher in an undisclosed location.

The footage then cuts to show the missile’s dummy re-entry vehicle striking a land-based target. The range to which the missile was tested is left unclear and the target area does not appear to contain any structures.

“Pakistan today successfully conducted Training Launch of Ghauri Missile System,” the Pakistani Army noted in a press release. “The launch was conducted by Army Strategic Forces Command and was aimed at testing the operational and technical readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command.”

The missile “can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads up to a distance of 1300 kms,” according to the Pakistani press release. The launch was observed by a number of senior Pakistani officials, including the commander of Army Strategic Forces Command Lieutenant General Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain.

“The launch consolidates Pakistan’s nuclear capability which is aimed at peace and stability through a credible deterrence regime,” the Pakistani statement added.

The Ghauri was last known to be test launched on April 15, 2015. That test was set up for the purpose of “testing the operational and technical readiness of Army Strategic Forces Command.”

The Ghauri is a Pakistani modification of North Korea’s Nodong ballistic missile. Pakistan is thought to possess around two dozen Ghauri missiles.

Despite remaining deployed, the Ghauri is limited in its effectiveness as a ballistic missile system in wartime. Liquid-propellant missiles like the Ghauri need to be fueled in the field before they can be launched, leaving them vulnerable to pre-emptive attack. The fueling process can take upwards of two hours.

In recent years, Pakistan has largely moved its practical land-based deterrent forces to solid-fuel systems like those in the Shaheen series. The missile’s propellant is built into the airframe in long-range solid-fuel ballistic missiles, making them highly survivable and responsive. These missiles are available for use as they become necessary.

In recent years, Pakistan has started developing new systems, including a submarine-launched cruise missile known as the Babur-3 and a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) capable medium-range ballistic missile known as the Ababeel.
Pakistan’s government has provided a $183.4 million sovereign guarantee for the sale of three JF-17 fighters to Nigeria.

Pakistan appears to have a second international customer for its domestically assembled Aeronautical Complex/Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (PAC/CAC) JF-17 “Thunder” multirole fighter jet after Myanmar.

According to local media reports, the Pakistani government’s Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) has approved a $184.3 million sovereign guarantee covering the delivery of three PAC/CAC JF-17 Thunder fighter jets to the Nigerian Air Force under a recently signed contract.

This is the first confirmation that a contract between Pakistan and Nigeria for the procurement of JF-17 fighter jets has been concluded, although Flight Global reported earlier this year that the Nigerian 2018 defense budget included $36 million earmarked as partial payment for the three fighter jets.

Pakistan and Nigeria purportedly inked a memorandum of understanding for the purchase back in 2016. Notably, Nigeria’s 2016 federal budget reportedly allocated $25 million for three JF-17 fighter jets and $9 million for 10 PAC Super Mushshak trainer aircraft, a PAC licence-built variant of the Saab MFI-17 Supporter aircraft.

Powered by a Russian designed but Chinese license-built Klimov RD-93 (a RD-33 derivative) turbofan engine, the JF-17, a light-weight single engine multirole combat aircraft, has a combat radius of up to 1,200 kilometers without refueling and can reach a maximum speed of up to Mach 1.6. The aircraft is capable of carrying a weapons payload of over 3.5 tons and can be armed with a variety of air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles.

The JF-17 was developed to replace the Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) fleet of Dassault Mirage III/5 fighter jets by the 2020s. As I explained earlier this year:

The PAF is expected to induct 150 JF-17 combat aircraft over the next years, split into three productions blocks: Block I, Block II, and Block-III. PAC has so far produced 50 Block I aircraft and 50 Block II JF-17s. Twelve more Block II JF-17 aircraft are expected to be rolled out in 2018. Pakistan is estimated to be capable of assembling up to 25 JF-17 aircraft per year without technical or logistical assistance from China. (PAC produces 58 percent of the airframe and CAC 42 percent.) Once the Block-II JF-17 order is complete this year, PAC will switch to producing the aircraft’s most advanced version.

The two-seat trainer variant of the JF-17, designated JF-17B, could be the basis for the JF-17 Block III variant. The PAF’s JF-17 is also slated to be retrofitted with a Chinese-made active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system, according to Chinese media reports. The latest version of the aircraft will also feature a new electronic warfare suite.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced two deals in a week with India to supply anti-aircraft air defense for the army and supply missile defense for the Indian navy. Together the deals are worth $1.3 billion and are part of the increasing cooperation Israel’s defense industry has with India.

On October 29, IAI announced a $550 million “mega-deal” to provide its Sky Capture command and control system for anti-aircraft defense for an army in Asia. The technology uses sensors and detection radars made by IAI and ELTA systems. The system is designed to provide short-range aerial defense for army units, such as bases and headquarters, and can be used with 40mm guns or eventually with MANPADs, or missiles, or other technologies.

The second deal worth $770 million was signed on October 24 and foresees Israel developing LRSAM missile defense for seven ships in the navy. The contract is with India’s Bharat Electronics Limited, a local Indian contractor. Boaz Levy, IAI’s Executive Vice-President and General Manager of Systems, Missiles and Space Group, said the contracts illustrates how IAI has one of the best capabilities in the world and that the current deal is part of increasing cooperation in India. “We are speaking the same language now," he said, describing close work with local contractors on the programs. As Israel becomes one of the largest arms suppliers to India, it increasingly plays a key role in upgrading various systems for India’s armed forces, combining the high tech that Israel has with local contractors and know how.

Last year, IAI signed a $1.6 billion deal to supply LRSAM air and missile defense for aircraft, and another deal for LRSAM for missile defense for the navy. It is part of India’s various global defense purchases that have added up to $100 billion in a decade and were estimated at $15.15 billion this year, according to a Defense News report in February.
India has the most to lose if it doesn’t embrace the Quad
The revival of the Australia–India–Japan–US security quadrilateral (informally known as the Quad) is anticipated to be a key plank of the ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ strategy. In theory, deeper cooperation among four powerful democracies with similar anxieties about China’s rise should strengthen a balance of power that favours the preservation of the rules-based order across the Indo-Pacific. The sceptical viewpoint is that India remains the weakest link: New Delhi is unreliable and will protect its strategic autonomy at any cost.

A case can be made for scepticism. Despite apparently warming to the idea, India again refused Australia’s request to join the Malabar naval exercises with the US and Japan held in June. It’s likely Sino-Indian relations had something to do with it, given Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s efforts to ‘reset’ relations with China after the resolution of the Doklam border crisis in August last year. More substantively, Modi might have feared that further upsetting China could have provoked Beijing to hit India where it hurts most: by helping Pakistan stir up additional trouble in Kashmir and along the disputed borders between India and China.

Even so, enduring strategic concerns will eventually force India to adopt a more strident policy against China, and the Quad will become an increasingly important grouping to that end. New Delhi’s fear of encirclement has been heightened by Beijing’s disregard for India’s claims to a sphere of influence over its neighbours and direct moves to undermine this influence. The role of ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ in securing access to potentially dual-use ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka is well known, with India fearing that they could be converted to military uses in the future. Beijing’s gunboat diplomacy in the Maldives in February, ostensibly to prevent potential Indian intervention in that country’s constitutional crisis, brought home the growing Chinese intrusion into India’s sphere of influence. This is a competitor who spends around four times more than India on its military according to 2017 figures.

There are reasons why the Quad will become more compelling for New Delhi despite its historical and rhetorical commitment to strategic non-alignment.

First, the other three Quad members are the most formidable naval powers operating in the Indo-Pacific, other than China. Both the US and Japan represent sources of cutting-edge military technologies and are likely to share some of that with like-minded countries as part of a free and open Indo-Pacific strategy. Australia may not be a direct source of such technology, but its own naval capabilities in the Indian Ocean—particularly in the areas of maritime domain awareness and submarine warfare—should not be underestimated. Australia too has the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean, which could be developed into important strategic territories.

Second, cooperation with Quad countries will help India to fill gaps in maritime domain awareness over the vast Indian Ocean. This may be in the form of access to military technology designed for this purpose (for example, India’s introduction of US P-8 surveillance and strike aircraft), development of jointly used military infrastructure (bases, ports, airstrips) and information- and intelligence-sharing. On the latter, India’s signing of the Communications Compatibility and Security Agreement with the US in September allows it to obtain secure and encrypted defence communications and data equipment from Washington, as well as access to real-time data-sharing with the US and other friendly forces.

Third, India knows that its greatest long-term challenge and threat is Chinese ambitions in the Indian Ocean and not land-based disputes with Pakistan. Deepening maritime cooperation within the structure of the Quad will help institutionalise ‘strategic discipline’ in this context. Indian pre-eminence in the Bay of Bengal is apparently a priority for the Modi government. If that’s so, deeper commitment to the Quad—an essentially maritime grouping—will help New Delhi keep its eye on the ball and prevent attention and resources from being diverted back to the army to be absorbed by permanent spats with Pakistan.

Indeed, the maritime division of labour among the four countries allocating resources and capability to areas and zones where they have an advantage makes sense. If India can persuade the US, Japan and Australia to support New Delhi’s desire to emerge as the preeminent security provider in the Bay of Bengal within a Quad structure, then that’s something every Indian government would support in a post-Modi era.

China’s emergence as an Indian Ocean power is narrowing India’s choices, which New Delhi only intermittently recognises. It remains the weakest link among the Quad countries. However, the Quad is becoming a more important grouping for India than for the US, Japan or Australia.

Will India soon emerge as champion of the Quad rather than reluctant participant? Yes, if New Delhi chooses self-help over self-harm. most to lose if it doesnt embrace the Quad
India to buy Russian Igla-S MANPADS missiles
India plans to purchase Russia's man-portable air defence missile system (MANPADS), the Economic Times reported on Tuesday.
According to the report, the deal is valued at $1.5 bln with the Russian bid considerably undercutting offers by Sweden's SAAB RBS70 NG and France's MBDA Mistral.
The Financial Express in turn stated that the contract would be to the tune of $3 bln.
The Indian media further reported that the new missiles should replace the Russian Igla-M systems. The Igla-S system is considered critical for defence against incoming helicopters, UAVs and ground attack aircraft.
The country's first Indigenous Aircraft Carrier (IAC) Vikrant has entered its final phase of construction and is expected to begin sea trials in 2020, Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba said on Monday.
Making a strong pitch for a second IAC, he said, “Case for a second IAC has received necessary impetus, though it is still a decade away. Construction would be spread over 7-10 years. We will see the start of construction in three years.” Adm. Lanba said addressing the annual press conference on Monday, on the eve of the Navy Day.
China has significantly scaled up construction of aircraft carriers with their first indigenous carrier undergoing trials and a second one under construction.
The Navy envisages IAC-II to have a displacement of 65,000 tonnes and use a Catapult Assisted Take Off But Arrested Recovery (CARTOBAR) for launching aircraft.
India’s first domestic carrier, Vikrant, weighing 40,000 tonnes, is in third and advanced stage of construction in Kochi. It works on a Short Take-Off But Arrested Recovery (STOBAR) mechanism similar to that in the present carrier INS Vikramaditya, with an angular ski-jump.
Adm. Lanba expressed optimism that an indigenous deck based fighter aircraft would be ready.
In this regard he said the tempo of overseas deployment and exercises was at an all time high this year. “Indian Navy conduced 20 exercises with friendly foreign navies,” Adm. Lanba stated.
On the possibility of a two front war, Adm. Lanba said the Navy does not have two fronts and said, “Indian Ocean is the only front.”
On China’s increasing presence in the Indian Ocean he said the balance of power is with the Indian Navy, however in the South China Sea China has a similar advantage.
The Afghan air force has deployed a GBU-58 Paveway II bomb from an A-29 Super Tucano in combat, marking the first time the Afghan military has dropped a laser-guided weapon against the Taliban.

Equipped with both guided and unguided bombs, an A-29 squadron used the GBU-58 on March 22 to destroy a Taliban compound in Farah, near the Iranian border, according to a U.S. Defense Department release.

"The AAF used the laser-guided technology because of the target's close proximity to civilians," the release said. "The success comes just three months after the AAF completed training to employ a laser-guided bomb. AAF weapons personnel and crew chiefs loaded, armed and launched the aircraft with minimal adviser input," the release said.

Officials said the Afghan pilots who conducted the operation were from Kabul Air Wing's Kandahar A-29 detachment. The AAF also assisted the Afghan National Army in destroying equipment the Taliban had stolen, the release said.
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