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14 Sep 18. Defence Minister Explains Why Rafale Deal “Failed” Under Congess Tenure. The previous UPA government started negotiating in 2012 with French Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA). The negotiations for procurement of 126 Rafale jets under the UPA government fell through as state-run HAL did not have the required capability to produce the jets in India in collaboration with French company Dassault Aviation, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday. Ms Sitharaman also said that an unprecedented intervention in 2013 by then Defence Minister A K Antony when the cost negotiation committee was giving final touches to the deal put the final nail in the coffin. After rounds of negotiations with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Dassault Aviation felt that the cost of the Rafale jets will escalate significantly if they were to be produced in India, she said during an interaction with PTI editors and reporters at the agency’s headquarters in New Delhi.
“Dassault could not progress in the negotiations with HAL because if the aircraft were to be produced in India, a guarantee for the product to be produced was to be given. It is a big ticket item and the IAF would want the guarantee for the jets. HAL was in no position to give the guarantee,” she said.
Ms Sitharaman said the weapon systems, avionics and other key add-ons to the Rafale aircraft, expected to be delivered beginning September 2019, will be “much superior” than that negotiated by the UPA, and her government is getting the planes for 9 per cent cheaper than what was earlier agreed upon.
The previous UPA government started negotiating in 2012 with French Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA).
The plan was for Dassault Aviation to supply 18 Rafale jets in fly-away condition while 108 aircraft were to be manufactured in India by the company along with HAL. However the deal could not be sealed.
The Congress has demanded answers from the government on why HAL was not involved in the new deal. Ms Sitharaman said the UPA deal collapsed as HAL did not have the capability to produce 108 aircraft in India.
“Even during negotiation with HAL, Dassault felt that the cost with which the HAL will produce will be far higher than the aircraft produced in France. That was the reality,” she said.
The defence minister said the then government could have come forward and pumped in resources into HAL, but they did not.
She said she has no intention of undermining HAL, but “why could not the then defence minister say that we will pump in all the required resources into the HAL. He could have done it. That was not done,” Ms Sitharaman said, adding that the current government was initiating steps to strengthen the state-run aerospace company.
In 2016, the Modi government signed a government-to-government deal with France for purchase of 36 Rafale jets at a cost of Rs. 58,000 crore. The Congress has been alleging irregularities in the deal. Rebutting charges of corruption in the deal, the defence minister also asserted that people of the country have put a closure on the issue as they have trust in Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“There is a trust in the prime minister. He is not going to be corrupt. So with all this, I think mentally, people of India have reached a closure on it, saying there is no corruption here,” she said.
Ms Sitharaman ruled out calling the opposition parties for a meeting to allay their concerns over the Rafale deal, saying they are “throwing an allegation” without any basis as well as showing no concern for operational preparedness of the air force. In a hard-hitting attack on Congress, she said the party was running short of issues and corruption was a plank on which it utterly failed.
“It is one of the cleanest governments India has ever seen. On corruption, the Congress is very frustrated. The party will have to learn from this government.
“I am saying this with a certain sense of confidence and not arrogance. The defence ministry is being run without any middleman and in a transparent way. We have proved that defence procurement can happen without middlemen,” she said.
On Mr Antony’s intervention, she said he held back the file at a stage where he did not have any role to play. However, she did not elaborate on reasons for Mr Antony’s action. The Congress has repeatedly criticised the deal for the 36 Rafale jets, alleging that the government was procuring each aircraft at a cost of over Rs. 1,670 crore as against Rs. 526 crore finalised by the UPA government. Ms Sitharaman said the Rs. 526 crore figure refers to the bare aircraft, capable of just flying and landing, and does not take into account the avionics, arsenal and other associated technologies that make it a complete fighting machine. (Source: Google/https://www.ndtv.com)
13 Sep 18. U.S. approves possible military sales worth $2.6bn to South Korea. The U.S. State Department has approved possible military sales worth $2.6bn (1.98bn pounds)to South Korea, including six P-8A Poseidon maritime reconnaissance aircraft and 64 Patriot anti-ballistic missile weapons, the Pentagon said on Thursday. The Boeing-made Poseidon aircraft, which are used for hunting submarines and conducting maritime reconnaissance, are worth up to $2.1bn, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) said. The South Korean procurement agency Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) said in June it had decided to buy the P-8 Poseidon aircraft. At the time, the contract was worth around $1.71bn. Thursday’s DSCA authorization included training, logistics, support equipment and services that could affect the price. U.S. ally South Korea is engaged in talks with North Korea on improving relations and the United States is involved in its own diplomatic efforts with North Korea on denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula. Washington has put pressure on North Korea via sanctions to give up its nuclear weapons program. The Patriot anti-missile systems, made by Lockheed Martin Co, are to defend against ballistic missiles and will cost $501m, the Pentagon said. The Republic of Korea requested 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) Missile Segment Enhancement (MSE) Missiles. DSCA said the proposed sales, which were notified to Congress on Thursday, will help South Korea improve its missile defence capability and support U.S. national security objectives by enhancing Seoul’s naval capabilities. (Source: Reuters)
12 Sep 18. Australia, New Zealand to deploy MPAs to monitor North Korean vessels. The governments of Australia and New Zealand announced on 7 September that they will deploy maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to Japan to monitor North Korean vessels suspected of transferring goods banned by UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions. Canberra will deploy two AP-3C Orion MPAs “to conduct maritime surveillance in support of the international effort to enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea,” said Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in a statement, pointing out that the move is “a continuation of our strong stand to deter and disrupt illicit trade and sanctions-evasion activities by North Korea and its associated networks”. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Sep 18. IAF teams to start Rafale training. A six-member team from the Indian Air Force (IAF) has left for France to train on Dassault Rafale fighters: a move that comes a little over two years after New Delhi ordered 36 of the multirole combat aircraft for EUR7.9bn (USD9.16bn) via an intergovernmental agreement. Official sources told Jane’s that the team, which comprises a fighter pilot, an engineer, and four technicians, will receive instruction on the Rafales over the next few months at the Saint Dizier-Robinson Air Base in eastern France, and will be followed by other IAF personnel who will undergo similar training. The sources said that these IAF teams will eventually fly the Rafales to India, in keeping with the agreed delivery schedule that is set to begin in September 2019 and be completed by April 2022. Meanwhile, several IAF personnel have been visiting France regularly over the past few months to assist Dassault and French Air Force pilots in jointly test-flying a Rafale fitted with ‘India-specific customisations’, 13 of which are to set be incorporated onto the fighters to be operated by the IAF. Industry sources said that final flight certification for the fighter is expected to be completed in France by 2022. The ‘India-specific customisations’ include a mix of locally developed and commercial off-the-shelf weaponry and equipment such as Israeli-made helmet-mounted display sights, assorted missiles, flight data recorders with 10 hours of storage and infrared search-and-track, and electronic warfare and identification friend-or-foe systems. #The Rafales are also set to be equipped with radio altimeters, low-band jammers, towed decoy systems, Doppler radar, and cold-weather-engine start-up devices for high-altitude airfields. The IAF’s Rafales are expected to be armed with MBDA’s MICA short/medium-range and Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles and the ground-attack Storm Shadow/SCALP missile. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
11 Sep 18. Phase 3 of Operation Roundup Starts in Syria. Syrian Democratic Forces initiated ground operations for Phase Three of Operation Roundup yesterday. The ground offensive, supported by coalition cross-border air and artillery strikes, will clear remnants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from northeastern Syria along the Middle Euphrates River Valley toward the Syria-Iraq border. Operation Roundup began May 1. Phase One successfully cleared ISIS from areas near Baghuz in northeastern Syria on May 15. Phase Two cleared ISIS forces from Dashisha, Syria, on July 20. Shaping operations for phase three began Aug. 4, and ground operations will clear ISIS remnants from Hajin and the remaining Dayr Az Zawr countryside east of the Euphrates River. Syrian Democratic Forces have proven themselves reliable, effective combat soldiers who abide by the law of armed conflict.
Support for SDF Partners
“We will continue to support our SDF partners in our shared fight against ISIS in Syria, and we thank the SDF for the incredible contribution and sacrifices they have made on behalf of the international community,” said Army Maj. Gen. Patrick Roberson, commander of Operation Inherent Resolve’s Special Operations Joint Task Force.
SDF operations, with coalition support, have been instrumental in defeating ISIS and liberating millions of Syrians from brutal terrorist rule, OIR officials said. The removal of ISIS from the battlefield has also thwarted the terrorist organization’s ability to recruit, train, equip, finance, inspire, plan and execute attacks throughout the region and the rest of the world.
“The multi-ethnic Syrian Democratic Forces remain committed to liberating the people of northeastern Syria from ISIS’s control and putting an end to the human suffering in the area,” Roberson said. “Moving forward, we will continue coordination with the SDF and other partners to promote regional security and stability that will ensure a lasting defeat of ISIS.”
Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve remains committed to defeating ISIS in designated parts of Iraq and Syria, and to helping set conditions for follow-on operations to increase regional stability. (Source: US DoD)
07 Sep 18. Why the 36 Rafale Meant for India Are the Most Potent In the World. A lot has been written and spoken about the 7.878bn Euros deal for 36 Rafale fighter jets that can even fire strategic weapons. It has been drawn into a political slugfest with the opposition, led by Congress and the ruling NDA government led by BJP indulging in a war of words almost every day. In between all this, the IAF had been maintaining a steady silence. However, it chose to break its silence this week and surprisingly swayed into the controversy. So even while the government said the 36 Rafale fighters were 9 and 20 percent cheaper than UPA deal (something which never saw the light of the day), a senior IAF officer came up with the figure of it being 40 percent cheaper.
Since a lot has been speculated about the pricing, here is the break up:
— The ‘[plain] vanilla price’ (just the aircraft alone) will cost about 91m Euros each for a single seater and about 94m Euros for a two-seater trainer aircraft which works out to be about 3.42bn Euros.
— The armaments cost about 710m Euros, while Indian-specific changes, including integration of Israeli helmet-mounted displays, will cost 1,700m Euros. Associate supplies for the 36 fighter jets will cost about 1,800m Euros while performance-based logistics will cost about 353m Euros. Keeping politics apart, the fact is that the IAF desperately needs fighters as it stares at a bleak future. The 36 Rafale fighter jets are not sufficient and the IAF will need much more of the MMRCA and lightweight kind to keep its upper hand over Pakistan and to be prepared for a two-front war. The 36 Rafale fighter jets being procured by India is the most potent Rafale to be manufactured ever. Even the French Air Force will have to wait before it gets its hand on a similar configuration. The Indian Rafale comes with 13 India-specific enhancements and includes Israeli helmet-mounted displays, ability to start at cold bases like Leh, better radar, better detection and survival features among others. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Republic World)
10 Sep 18. Vietnam places orders for Russian weapons worth over $1bn: TASS. Vietnam has placed orders for Russian weapons and military services worth more than $1bn, Russia’s TASS news agency has reported, as the Southeast Asian country bolsters its defense capability.
“We have a portfolio of orders worth more than $1bn,” TASS cited Dmitry Shugayev, head of Russian Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, as saying on Thursday.
The report came during a visit to Russia by Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam’s Communist Party. It did not give any details of the deals. Vietnam and Russia have had close relations for decades. Russia is Vietnam’s biggest weapons supplier and Russian companies are involved in several Vietnamese energy projects. Vietnam had earlier bought six state-of-the-art Kilo attack submarines, along with several warships, jet fighters and other military equipment from Russia.
“The two sides have confirmed their commitment to continue developing their military ties,” Vietnam’s Communist Party said in a statement on Friday, after a meeting in Russia between Trong and Russian President Vladamir Putin.
Vietnam has been one of the world’s most active arms importers over recent years, amid China’s increasingly aggressive territorial claims in the South China Sea, where the neighbors have long-standing rival claims. Vietnamese and Russian companies signed several cooperation agreements during Trong’s visit, including three on banking cooperation, according to the Vietnamese government. (Source: glstrade.com/Reuters)
13 Sep 18. PLA’s Fighter Jet A Drag On Carrier’s Combat Capabilities. China’s one commissioned aircraft carrier and its second one doing seat trials at the moment face one serious problem – finding enough combat aircraft to take off from them. China’s aircraft carrier-borne J-15 is a fourth generation, twin-jet, all-weather fighter developed by the Aviation Industry Corp of China. It took to the skies from the Liaoning’s ski-jump-like bow for the first time in 2012. Yet it appears that since then, the J-15’s production and deployment have been hovering around low levels: the People’s Liberation Army only had about 40 of these fighters in active service as of last year, according to the PLA Daily. To put that number in perspective, the Liaoning needs 24 J-15s to form a combat-ready fighter squadron and her sister ship, the Type 001A carrier now getting ready to be commissioned, will also need the same amount of J-15s when it eventually sets sail as a combat-ready member of the fleet. The J-15 was copied, with AVIC and PLA technicians spending years reverse engineering the design of an unfinished Su-33 prototype acquired from Ukraine in the early 2000s. But the fighter was also fitted with domestically produced radar, engines and weapons. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Asia Times)
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