INS Shardul on a visit to Mauritius
INS Shardul, a part of Indian Navy’s first Training Squadron, is on a visit to Mauritius from 10th to 13th March, as a part of overseas deployment to Southern Indian Ocean nations. It will also participate in the country’s National Day Celebrations to be held on 12th March 2021. The ship will co-ordinate with the Mauritian National Coast Guard to undertake the EEZ surveillance of Mauritius.
The event of an Indian Navy ship visiting Port Louis in Mauritius signifies the increasing friendship and strong bilateral ties between the two countries. Both the countries are focusing on strengthening maritime security operations through mutual cooperation and understanding.
INS Shardul is an indigenous ship built at Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers (GRSE) in Kolkata. It is an amphibious warfare ship and was commissioned in the Indian Navy in 2007. The ship took part in various Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations. It can carry troops, battle tanks and even helicopters. In June 2020, it was a integral part of Operation Samudra Setu, which evacuated overseas Indians stranded in different parts of the world due to Covid-19 pandemic. It delivered 600 tons of food grains in Madagascar as the country experienced a drought in March 2020.
New batch of Rafale jets to arrive soon
The second squadron of the Rafale Jets will be based at the Hasimara Air Base in West Bengal. Indian Air Force (IAF) is planning to raise this battalion after it receives more Rafale fighter jets. IAF is planning to procure new generation medium range modular air to ground ‘Hammer; weapon system which will be integrated with the Rafale jets. The French Defence firm Safran designed Hammer (Highly Agile Modular Munition Extended Range) for the French Air Force and Navy. It is a precision guided missile.
Next batch of aircrafts, which is expected to arrive India by mid-April, will be stationed at Main Operating Base (MOB) in Hasimara. Each squadron comprises of 18 aircrafts. Rafale jets are capable of carrying Scalp cruise missile and MICA weapon systems. MBDA’s Meteor beyond visual range air to air missile (BVRAAM) can also be equipped with these jets.
The first squadron of Rafale, Golden Arrows, is stationed in Ambala Air Force Station. In July 2020, the first batch of Rafale fighter jets comprising 5 aircraft arrived India. The first squadron was then formed and in September 2020, the Rafale jets were formally inducted to the service. The second batch having 3 jets arrived in November, followed by the third batch which landed in January 2021. The third batch had 3 Rafale jets. About 4 years ago, India entered into an agreement with France to procure 36 Rafale fighter jets at an estimated cost of Rs. 59,000 crores.
Guns for Naval warships to be manufactured by BHEL
Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) will supply 2 Super Rapid Gun Mounts (SRGM) to the Indian Navy. It has bagged the order and will supply these main guns standardized for all Naval warships. BHEL will enhance the range of these guns and is working on development of upgraded versions for the future needs. The manufacturing and inspection facility centre has been set up at the Heavy Electrical Equipment Plant in Haridwar, Uttarakhand.
As per the contract, BHEL will look after production, installation and commissioning of the SRGMs. It will also provide lifetime support to these indigenous Naval guns. BHEL is well known manufacturer in fields of transport, energy storage systems, e-mobility, power generation and mechanical and electrical products. It also provides services in defence and aerospace sector.
Boeing offers KC-46 Aerial tankers to IAF
The US aerospace major Boeing Company has offered to lease KC-46 tanker, a derivative of the Boeing 767 passenger aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). IAF requires mid-air refuellers and Boeing is ready to lease these as there is provision for leasing military platforms in the Defence Acquisition Procedure (DAP).
The company claims that it’s KC-46 can operate out of both big and small airports thus reducing its operational cost as compared to European aerospace major Airbus’ A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT). Also KC-46 can carry cargo and passengers and can be used in humanitarian relief efforts unlike Airbus’ A330. Moreover, KC-46 is more of a combat tanker. Very soon Japan Air Self-Defence Force will have KC-46 tanker in service. Japan is the first international customer of KC-46 program.
Boeing’s tanker has been designed to operate in nuclear and bio environments. Its size is such that it can take off and land from more than 100 airstrips in a war like situation. Mid-air refuellers enhance the range of the fighter aircrafts enabling pilots to carry out strikes at longer ranges. They can stay in-flight for longer time without requiring landing and refuelling. Currently, India operates six Russian Ilyushin-78 tankers, in service since 2003. They have aged now and require lot of maintenance and servicing. India’s upcoming squadrons of Rafale and Tejas Mk 1A have long range capability and can be refuelled mid-air.
As per a new provision in DAP-2020 the Ministry of Defence (MoD) can acquire and operate military assets and equipment in future on lease without actually owning them. Facing budget constraints, this provision adds new life to MoD’s plans of acquiring latest technology. Buying equipment on lease will help doing away with initial contract cost as entire rental payment will spread over the lease period. Assets can be acquired on lease if there is constraint of time or if they are needed in limited numbers for a specific period. Lease option is also open for gaining operational experience or any other operational exigency. Lease are primarily of two kinds- operating lease and finance lease. In operating lease lessor retains the ownership of the asset during and after the lease term and under finance lease the asset is transferred to the lessee as lease term expires. Operating lease can be a dry one in which only the asset is transferred to the lessee or a wet one in which lessor provides operating crew, maintenance support, etc. along with the asset. Sometimes lessors can be independent third parties operating in partnership with the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs), DAP-2020 has provision for lease agreement requiring coordination between a leasing firm, financiers, OEM, and the country concerned.