India is eyeing a big role in defense export market
India is exploring its potential to become a major player in defence export market. PM, Modi has set a target for Indian defense exports worth $5 billion by 2024. The Union Cabinet cleared the export of Akash surface-to-air missile systems in February and has set up a high-powered panel to grant swift approval to export military hardware. The missiles and larger weapon systems can be sold to “friendly foreign” nations that will help in improving strategic ties with them. Until now, India is known for exporting ordnance and smaller armaments only. According to experts, Akash, BrahMos, Prahaar and the air-to-air Astra missiles have huge export potential. India lagged behind in export of defence related products due to lack of effort to sell and the strong First-World nations lobby that dominates the defence market. Defence scientists have been seeking export permission for indigenously developed weapons but were discouraged due to lack of credible defence export policy.
From 2015 to 2019 India was the world’s second-largest importer of weapons after Saudi Arabia. The country imported 9.2% of the arms produced globally. Meanwhile, India’s defence exports have been on an upward trend since last few years. Various countries have evinced interest in Akash missile, which is capable of targeting aerial assets within a range of 25km. It is claimed that Akash is 50% cheaper than its competitors. The cost of other Indian systems like radars and sonars is also around a quarter to one-fifth of the similar systems available in the global market. However, the export systems will be different variants of the systems used in India as no country sells the best variant.
The 290-km range BrahMos is being eyed by Indonesia, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Vietnam and the Philippines. As regards the Philippines, all formalities have been completed, including a thumbs-up from Russia, as the missile was developed in a joint venture with Russia. Final approval from the Cabinet Committee for Security is awaited. With India being a signatory to the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), it can sell missiles with a range beyond 300km. The cheap versions of the missile systems provided by India can give a tough fight to Israel and other developed countries. India is marching ahead with pace to become a self-reliant nation with respect to defence technology. The induction of these systems in large numbers in India’s defence arsenal will attract the other countries to import these technologies. It is expected that once India starts exporting, a market will be developed and even private players can be brought into the picture then. Not only the defence PSUs, other private players have also grown to be a significant player in the defence sector, and hence there is a need to develop a robust ecosystem to promote exports from the country.
Ordnance Factories back to scrutiny radar
In two separate accidents involving the 105mm field guns, two personnel, one each of the Indian Army and Border Security Force (BSF) got killed. This brings into spotlight the ammunition manufactured by the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB). The first incident in the Akhnoor sector of Jammu led to the death of Gunner Sayan Ghosh of the artillery regiment, leaving two others injured during a live firing training. In this the barrel of a 105mm gun suddenly burst into pieces and flying splinters hit the soldiers.
In the second incident a BSF constable Satish Kumar died at the Pokharan firing range in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. Three other soldiers were injured in this mishap. The accident was caused by a premature blast in the muzzle of the 105mm gun. A court of enquiry has been ordered in both the cases. The OFB has maintained that a holistic enquiry should be conducted in these matters as the accidents are a complex phenomenon and can be caused by number of reasons including design, storage, maintenance, and shelf-life related issues.
The OFB functions under the Ministry of Defence’s Department of Defence Production and is one of the oldest state owned production entities. Defence establishment has been flagging issues regarding deteriorating quality of the ammunitions produced by OFB. The use of OFB manufactured equipment had resulted in over 400 accidents between 2014 and 2019 leading to 27 deaths. However, the OFB has refuted the claim as being exaggerated. Efforts are underway regarding corporatization of the OFBs and the options are being explored to enhance the quality of products of the OFBs and keeping those robust with the prevailing and futuristic defence requirements of the country.
Indian Forces on alert at Myanmar border
The security forces have increased their patrols along the Myanmar border to keep an eye on the refugee movement from the other side. Recently, the number of refugees trying to enter India has increased and the security forces are trying to reduce this infiltration. Mizoram Police officials said that they’re not letting anyone cross the border and the situation is under control.
Few days ago, Myanmar’s military tried to suppress the demonstrations against them and some low ranked police officers tried to cross the border and enter India. On February 1, the democratically elected government in Myanmar was overthrown by the Military, which lead to countrywide protests and killing of more than 50 people. 8 people which included a woman and a child crossed the border in the Serchipp district. The authorities have prepared themselves for any situation and have made arrangements to accommodate 30-40 people. As per reports, about 40 personnel from Myanmar police have crossed the borders with their families. They entered India with the help of Tiau river that flows along the Indo-Myanmar border. The families arriving have disclosed that the military in Myanmar has imposed shoot at sight order.
India is trying to maintain the diplomatic balance. It has to deal manage both the fronts – one of the International Relations and the other being safeguarding of human rights.
PM Modi addresses top commanders’ meet
Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the valedictory session of the Combined Commanders Conference organized by the Ministry of Defence at Kevadia, Gujarat. He was briefed by Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat about the discussions that took place in the three-day conference.
Highlights of the PM’s address are:
In the backdrop of the swiftly changing technological landscape, Indian military needs to develop into a “future force”. PM emphasized that the three services should get rid of legacy systems and practices that are no longer relevant. There is a need to break down civil-military silos and expedite decision making. He appreciated the “resolute dedication” shown by the armed forces last year in dealing with the twin problems of the COVID-19 pandemic and border tensions on the northern border simultaneously. In keeping with the spirit of Atmanirbhar Bharat policy of the government, the armed forces have taken to indigenization on a significant scale. PM stressed the importance of indigenization in the national security system in sourcing equipment and weapons and emphasized to follow the same spirit in doctrines, procedures and customs as well. The top commanders should optimize manpower planning in both military and civilian parts of the national security architecture. As the country will celebrate 75 years of independence next year, the PM asked military to organize events so as to inspire the country’s youth and ensure the participation of “brave veterans” in the celebrations. He made a point that every Indian is proud of the armed forces and the exemplary courage shown by them.
The conference was held in the backdrop of the ongoing disengagement process between the Chinese and Indian forces along Pangong Tso after nearly 10 month long stand-off between the two forces along the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Also, the Indian and Pakistani militaries have announced observance of ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) from the midnight of February 24. Meanwhile the armed forces are giving finishing touches to the theaterization plan. This year’s conference was a “multi-layered, interactive and informal event”. The conference saw the participation of middle-rung officers, junior commissioned officers (JCOs) and non-commissioned officers (NCOs) for the first time that was highly appreciated by the Prime Minister. Theaterisation plan was among the key topics discussed during the conference. CDS General Bipin Rawat said that service parochialism will have to make way for a combined services outlook to take theaterisation forward.
The conference was attended by Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, the CDS, the three service chiefs, secretary-ranked officers from the defence ministry and top military officials. Held traditionally in Delhi, the conference has moved out of the capital after 2014. Over past years it has been held on India’s aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, Indian Military Academy (IMA), Dehradun and Air Force Station, Jodhpur.
Indian and Sri Lankan forces conduct air observer training
Indian Navy teamed up with the Sri Lanka Navy and Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) for the air observer training exercise, held in the southern coast from 2nd to 5th March. The Dornier aircraft from the Indian Navy took part from the Indian side, while the Sri Lankan side had 7 Air Observers from SL Navy and 4 Air Observers from the SLAF. The exercise started from the Katunayake Air Force Base in Sri Lanka and covered the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) situated in the southern coast of the country.
4 training sorties were conducted during the exercise. This exercise was aimed to increase Sri Lankan Navy’s assistance to the fishing and naval communities. Excellency in such operations would led to easy and successful responds during emergency conditions in the Sri Lanka’s Search and Rescue Region (SAR). This training exercise also increased mutual cooperation between the two forces of the country and Indian Forces.
INS Karanj to be commissioned on March 10
Indian Naval Ship (INS) Karanj, the third of the six Kalvari-class diesel electric submarines will be commissioned on March 10. Karanj is a small submarine of 60 metres length. It is the claimed to be the first truly indigenous submarine encapsulating the spirit of ‘Make in India’. Prior to it INS Kalvari and INS Khanderi have been commissioned in the Indian Navy in 2017 and 2019, respectively. Karanj sailed for 100 days during trials before being commissioned.
Karanj will have 39 personnel onboard when the submarine works in shifts. The personnel have been specially trained for a long period to serve on the submarine for months. As submarine gets into action, the crew cannot make any noise. They cannot see sunlight for days and bathe once every four days. They cannot exercise much as it increases carbon levels inside the ship. The crew has to clean toilets and maintain strict diet.
The Kalvari class submarines can be deployed for discharging various roles like guarding a strategic point in the sea, gathering intelligence, laying mines, dropping marine commandos and engaging with enemy ships. This class of conventional submarines is smaller, easier to manoeuvre and can go closer to the coast as compared to nuclear-powered submarine. Public sector shipbuilder Mazagaon Dock Limited (MDL) is constructing Kalvari class of submarines. A French company was roped in to teach MDL and transfer the technology to India for indigenous development of ships as per the contract. However, Karanj has been built without any French supervision and even crew was trained by Indian Navy officials.
Karanj is equipped with best sensors in the world. It has sufficient wire-guided torpedoes and sub-surface to surface missiles to neutralize a large enemy fleet. It even has state-of-the-art torpedo-decoy system for self defence. The submarine is fitted with integrated platform management system to provide centralized propulsion and machinery control. Powerful diesel engines can quickly charge batteries for a stealthy mission profile. It is fitted with permanent magnetic synchronous motor, and hence it is one of the quietest submarines in the world. Its modular construction enables upgradation to air independent propulsion in future.