Quad won’t be military alliance: Army Chief
According to Army Chief General MM Naravane, Quad won’t be a military alliance like North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). He said that there will be military-to-military cooperation between the members of the Quad bilaterally as well as quadrilaterally. It is supposed to be a quadrilateral security dialogue where each country would be looking at its own interest. In the first summit under Quad framework the leaders of the US, Japan, India and Australia vowed to expand cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and deliberated on the distribution of the coronavirus vaccine. Their resolve is to uphold rules-international order in the Indo-Pacific. General Naravane emphasized that the Quad is not directed against any particular country. Rather, it is an alliance of like-minded democracies who share certain values and believe in the global order based on rules and regulations. He also said that Beijing’s unilateral assertion on the territories of the other countries to change the status quo cannot be accepted by any self-respecting country. The countries at the receiving end are realizing that they need to take a stand in order to safeguard their interests. This he said in reference to reports of China sending more than 200 fishing vessels into the territorial waters of the Philippines.
Government to fund 250 Defence startups
Defence has emerged as one of the most promising sectors in inward orientation of manufacturing and development activities under the Make in India mission. In this way apart from contributing towards maintaining internal and external peace, the sector is giving a boost to the socio-economic development of the country. It is estimated that by 2030, India’s defence and aerospace industry will reach a market valuation of around $70 billion. India’s startup ecosystem is playing a pivotal role in achieving the vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat. Around 194 startups in the defence-tech space are leveraging new age technologies to design systems that would add to the strength of the nation’s defence sector. Startups such as CRON Systems, EyeROV, Optimized Electrotech and Asteria Aerospace are building solutions to address the challenges faced by the armed forces. They are making use of technologies such as drones, image analysis, robotics and artificial intelligence to bolster India’s defence and security capabilities. In order to make optimum use of the startups, the government is planning to fund at least 250 defence startups over next five years.
The Ministry of Defence has launched the Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) initiative to encourage indigenous innovation and technology development in defence and aerospace. For this a corpus fund of Rs 500 crore has been set up to support MSMEs and startups. The technology being developed by these startups would help India achieve the target of self-reliance in the defence sector and reduce dependence on imports. This sector is witnessing renewed focus by the government that is evident from an increase of 19% capital expenditure for defence compared to last year’s budget estimates. Even in the wake of pandemic, the emergency defence procurement stood at Rs 20776 crore in the backdrop of assertive China expanding its foothold along the LAC. Giving a boost to India’s defence exports, the 15th Finance Commission has suggested for a non-lapsable modernization fund of Rs 2.38 lakh crore for five year period for defence and security. This proposal has received an in-principal nod from the government. The fund can be sourced in four ways- disinvestment proceeds of defence public sector enterprises, transfers from the Consolidated Fund of India, proceeds from monetization of surplus defence land and funds from sale of defence land likely to be transferred to state governments and public projects in the future. These measures would go a long way in strengthening indigenous defence industry and contribute significantly towards the $5-trillion economy goal by 2025.
France to brief IAF Chief on F4 standard
In next 40 days Dassault Aviation will be delivering 12 more fighter jets, completing delivery of 23 out of 36 jets contracted by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Remaining jets would be delivered by the end of this year. IAF chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria would visit France around April 20-22 where he will be briefed about the F4-standard which is under development. With this Dassault Aviation is about to make a renewed push for 36 more Dassault Rafale based on F-4 standard that will also include India Specific enhancements. The improvisations on the F-4 standard include upgrades to the radar sensors and front sector optronics, helmet-mounted display capabilities and new weapons to be integrated like Mica NG air-to-air missile and 1000 kg AASM Air-to-Ground Modular Weapon. It will also come with new Prognosis and Diagnostic Aid System introducing predictive maintenance capabilities. Other features include solutions based on Big Data and Artificial Intelligence and the jet will also be equipped with a new engine control unit. Dassault Aviation is also offering 70% Transfer of Technology (ToT) in the IAF tender for producing 114 Dassault Rafale jets which has a mandatory Make in India clause.
India increasing its military capabilities in Space
India conducted an Anti-Satellite test in March 2019 also known as Mission Shakti in which a redundant satellite was successfully shot down in space. The test increased the deterrence capability of the country against its adversaries. After this, the Defence Space Agency was set up in Bengaluru headed by an Air Vice Marshal rank officer that would gradually take over space-related capabilities of the three forces. India’s military capabilities are increasing in space with the DRDO developing sensors and satellites along with ground stations to help the defence forces in warfare. The government had earlier approved of the space research agency under the DRDO to develop military power in space. DRDO is working to provide enhanced Signal Intelligence (SIGINT), Communication Intelligence (COMINT) and Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) capabilities to security forces. In view of the Chinese aggression, work is in progress to provide high resolution imagery to armed forces to keep a closer eye and analyse the development in-ground. The government has created agencies for tackling space and cyber warfare and a Special Operations Division to respond to the exigencies both inside and outside the country.
IAF defers mega drill ‘Iron Fist’
Indian Air Force’s crucial exercise ‘Iron Fist’ held every three years will not be conducted this year owing to the IAF’s deployment in the Ladakh sector in the wake of ongoing border tensions with China. The exercise involving almost 200 aircraft showcases India’s air power. It was supposed to be held in March this year at Rajasthan’s Pokharan test facility but has been removed from the IAF’s training schedule of 2021. The IAF has been on a state of high alert along the LAC for several months and was also a part of the Aero India event held in February in Bengaluru. Thus, there is a need to conserve flying hours and equipment leading to the deferment of the exercise. In last edition of Iron Fist held in 2016, 181 aircraft including 103 fighter planes participated. The exercise saw 572 rockets, 81 bombs and nine missiles being fired that included the indigenous Astra beyond-visual-range missile and the Akash missile. As a traditional firepower demonstration, the exercise would provide a heavy dose of armament training to air and ground crews and demonstrated military aviation prowess to the countrymen. Iron Fist’s maiden edition was held in 2013. As the IAF had already conducted the Gaganshakti exercise in 2018 to test its readiness for a two-front war with China and Pakistan, the 2019 edition of Iron Fist was not held. IAF is busy testing its capabilities to carry out day and night all-weather combat missions in the Ladakh sector. Front-line fighter jets including Rafale fighter jets, MiG-29, Sukhoi-30s, Apache Ah-64E attack helicopters and Ch-47F (I) Chinook multi-mission choppers have been deployed in the Ladakh sector to strengthen the military posture in the region. The C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft moved soldiers, tanks and infantry combat vehicles to the sector, while C-130J Super Hercules undertook sorties to the advanced landing ground in the strategic Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) sector to support military’s forward deployments.
Multilateral Air Exercise in UAE concludes
Indian Air Force (IAF) participated in Desert Flag-VI exercise conducted by United Arab Emirates (UAE) at Al Dhafra air base. The exercise that saw participation of countries such as the US, France, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain concluded on 27 March 2021. Participation of the IAF in the exercise was a step towards emboldening the defence ties between India and the UAE. It was for the first time that the IAF participated in this exercise with Sukhoi-30MKI fighter aircraft. The objective of the exercise was to expose the forces to large force deployment, enhance interoperability, and sharpen tactical capabilities along with fostering closer relations. The IAF flew large force engagement (LFE) missions in near realistic environment with varied types of aircraft. It successfully completed its all day and night missions. According to the ministry the experience shared, the bonds made, the knowledge gained and the lessons learnt will go a long way in strengthening professional capabilities of the participating forces. The Indian Navy provided cover to the IAF fighters on their return flight over the Arabian Sea.
Unexploded Ordnance Handling Robot ready for tech transfer
Designed and developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization’s (DRDO) Research and Development Establishment (Engineers), the Unexploded Ordnance Handling Robot (UXOR) is ready for technology transfer to private firms. The robot can handle and defuse unexploded ordnance (UXOs) – bombs, mortars and missiles up to 1000 kg remotely from 1 km Line Of Sight (LOS). Based on an Internal Combustion (IC) engine, the UXOR has a tracked Skid Steer Loader platform (like JCBs), good cross country mobility with six hours of endurance. The abrasive water jet cut machine provides case entry through cut of UXOs. The robot is equipped with two manipulator arms, one for handling heavy bombs up to 1000 kg and the other with the cutting nozzle. It can defuse UXO with low order detonation. The seven axis manipulator holds the nozzle through which the abrasive compound is used to cut through steel (up to 25 mm thick) and remove fuse for small ordnance or case cutting for large bombs thereby rendering the UXO safe. The agency has issued Expression of Interest (EoI) from original manufacturers who would manufacture and supply the system with requisite quality standards. The explosive ordnance, if it fails to explode as intended, as time lapses, its detonator and main charge deteriorate, making it more sensitive to disturbance and more dangerous to handle.
Korean Defence Minister witnesses Indian Paratrooper’s exercise
Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook was on a three-day visit to India in order to focus on boosting bilateral defence and military cooperation. He witnessed exercise by the Indian paratroopers along with Indian Army Chief General MM Naravane. Twenty five paratroopers showed combat free fall, they were dropped from an aircraft at the height of around 12000 feet. 80 paratroopers displayed static line jump, were dropped from an aircraft at the height of around 1250 feet. Military equipment was also dropped from the aircraft. The exercise involved around 650 soldiers. Wook then paid a visit to Indian Army’s 60 Para Field Hospital, which provided medical aid to UN and South Korean personnel during the Korean War of 1950s. South Korea is among the major suppliers of weapons and military equipment to India. A roadmap for cooperation in joint production of various land and naval system was finalized between the two countries in 2019. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Suh Wook jointly inaugurated an Indo-Korean friendship park in Delhi Cantonment area. It has been built to commemorate the contribution of Indian peacekeeping force during the Korean war of 1950-53. Talks were also held between Wook and Singh on strengthening defence ties.