HEADLINES:
Indian Army successfully test fires Agni-II IRBM for the third time। Agni-II is nuclear capable। The firing on February 20 in full operational configuration। DAC clears proposals worth Rs 15,935 Cr (approx $2.2b) । The approval covers purchae of Rifles, Carbines and Light Machine Guns for the Army, Navy and Air Force । New weapons are required by the Indian Army’s for effective engagement of Pakistani infiltrations । Leading Pakistani human rights activist Asma Jahangir passes away । Globally respected for her liberal views, she was a strong pro-democracy activist । SpaceX Launches the World’s Most Powerful Rocket, and aboard it, Mr Musk’s electric red sports Car । “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important,” he said Feb 6। Mr Elon Musk owns both SpaceX, the world’s biggest space company, as well as Tesla cars। SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has ferried payload to Space Station but this time, rocket is turbocharged। For the first time, NASA was not involved in launching such a heavy rocket। Singapore Airshow Opens Feb 6 । Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Airbus, Sikorsky, and the global biggies are taking part । Honeywell Provides Fuel Made From Mustard Seeds For Trans-Pacific Flight । Russia views India as a Privileged Partner, says Rostec CEO Chemezov । US Carrier Carl Vinson to make first ever visit to Vietnam in March । Carl Vinson woll dock at Da Nang, apparently boosting bilateral military cooperation । Happy Republic Day to All Indians । Emirates signs agreement for up to 36 additional A380s । India successfully test fires 5000-Km A380s ICBM। Defexpo to be held April 11-15 in Tamil Nadu, India’s southern state। HAL receives RfP for 83 LCA Tejas from IAF। The new LCAs will have AESA combat Radar। IAF had announced the decision for new LCAs sometime back। INS Kalvari commissioned into Indian Navy December 14। Prime Minister Modi ceremonially inducted the Scorpene class boat in Mumbai। Built by state-run MDL with French collaboration, Kalvari is the first submarine inducted after 2000। Modi described the Kalvari as a fine example of Make in India। Five more Kalvari Class submarines are to be commissioned over the next couple of years।
February 25, 2018
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Aero India, a Reminder of Urgency Needed in Modernisation

March 2017
 

February is a festive month of Spring, with flowers all over. Perhaps, many people also have their hopes blooming this time of the year, at least due to the good mood spurred by good weather.

gulshan_luthra

Aero India, held in the garden city of Bangalore, should also be indicative of good times to come for the armed forces, who have a cumulative backlog of some 30 years in equipment, thanks to the paralysis generated in the Ministry of Defence due to the allegations over the acquisition of Bofors in the mid-1980s.

Many hopeful plans put up by the Army, Navy and Air Force have been scuttled ever since over allegations, mostly unfounded, and often prompted by vested interests. One such example mentioned by a senior Army Officer was about the Army’s plans to acquire thermal imagers a few years back. The Army tried and tested various systems, homed on to one, and then followed anonymous letters and even reports in a section of the media leading to the cancellation of the process.

The Aero India this time was not what it used to be in the past years. Participating companies of course claimed that big acquisition plans in India get scuttled, sometimes without explanations. Instances are given of the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) competition and that of the Airbus A330 midair refueler tender.

I suppose the Government must have valid reasons.

Nonetheless, the delay in the general process of acquisition is crippling, and somehow, howsoever, the Prime Minister, Cabinet Committee on Security, and Ministry of Defence have to devise ways and means to 1. Increase the acquisition budget for all the three Services, and 2. Cut down the timelines by speeding up the movement of files and trial of systems.

How do you make up for the backlog? Obviously, by reducing it. How do you reduce it? Obviously, by increasing the expenditure and cutting down the timelines.

The fact that IAF does not yet have an aircraft of MMRCA capability, with modern sensors and systems like AESA, hits you hard, particularly at shows like Aero India.

Every Air Chief is hopeful of something happening during his tenure, and the new Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, has equally reposed his confidence in the Government’s plans for an indigenously produced fighter jet in collaboration with a foreign manufacturer. The expression used is strategic partnership.

There are offers for Make in India production of Boeing F/A 18 Advanced Super Hornet, Lockheed Martin’s updated F 16 Super Viper, Saab’s new generation Gripen, and again, a new version of the Russian Mig 35 which is still under trials.

There will be no tender this time. Direct Government-to-Government negotiations to evaluate what’s on offer and at what price. Enables for fast selection!

I hope IAF gets what it wants, and quickly.

Gulshan Rai Luthra

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