India is darling of global defense firms



India launches the four-day defense exhibition, Defexpo, in New Delhi.
Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, in white, visits the Defexpo defense exhibition in New Delhi. Many defense firms are looking to land contracts with India. (Press Information Bureau / March 31

Sailor-suited Russian models touted their nation's submarines. Indian officers posed for pictures atop foreign-made armor-plated vehicles.

And working the room at New Delhi's aging exhibition center were French, British and American arms merchants from global defense giants, elbowing each other aside in the search for a deal at Defexpo India 2012, the country's biggest-ever weapons trade show.

Fueled by superpower ambitions and rivalry with China but hampered by a creaky domestic defense industry, India is on a military buying spree that's made it the belle-of-the-global-military ball.

"India's a little yokel with pockets full of cash and everyone's trying to mug it," said Ajai Shukla, a defense analyst and former army colonel.

India's long shopping list calls for $20 billion in fighter jets, $1.5 billion worth of refueling aircraft and billions of dollars in submarines, tanks and artillery, among other equipment, all part of an estimated $80 billion spending spree over the next five years.

Pakistan once kept Indian generals awake at night. But increasingly that mantle goes to China, with its growing economic and military might and festering territorial disputes along its shared 2,800-mile-long border with India. Adding to India's insecurity are memories of its defeat by Beijing in a 1962 border war.

The situation leaves India increasingly bracing for the possibility of a two-front war given close Sino-Pakistani relations. Its armed forces already battle civil unrest and border incursions in the disputed region of Kashmir, a homegrown Maoist insurgency and threat of terrorists breaching its thinly patrolled coast, as seen during the 2008 Mumbai attack.

The country was the world's largest weapons importer for the 2007-11 period, according to theStockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank, followed by South Korea, Pakistan and China. Although the Middle Kingdom's annual military budget of $106 billion is nearly three times India's, the rapid expansion of its homegrown defense industry means it produces an estimated 90% of its weapon systems domestically, compared with 30% for India.

A measure of India's unease is seen in plans to add three army divisions totaling 90,000 soldiers along the border. This anxiety isn't shared, however, with Beijing largely focused on what the American military, not India's, is up to, analysts said.

China holds the high ground given the altitude of the Tibet plateau — key in any land conflict — in part because of its superior hardware and better rail and road links. By some estimates, China could deploy troops within a week, whereas India would need three weeks.

"India must at all costs avoid land competition with China," said Endre Lunde, a consultant with IHS Jane's, a defense consultancy. "It just can't end well."

India has some advantages though. Its aircraft take off at lower altitudes, allowing them to carry greater payloads. And India would probably enjoy stronger global diplomatic support in any conflict.

Increasingly, however, Delhi must also contend withChina'snavy, poised to start challenging its neighbor's primacy in the Indian Ocean. Beijing's first aircraft carrier started sea trials in August, and three more carriers are expected in quick succession. And despite its traditional focus on the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, China is financing port construction in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh and flexing its muscle with antipiracy missions off Somalia.

India has sought a Russian-built carrier for at least four years, but the cost has now reportedly doubled to $2.3 billion after repeated squabbles with Moscow. Two more carrier purchases are planned by 2017. For now, however, India has to make do with a 1950s-era British-built carrier that's on its last legs.

Beyond perceived threats, India is also hoping its military spending will help modernize its design, engineering and assembly industries, project greater regional clout befitting an emerging superpower and help reverse its record of failed indigenous weapon production, cost overruns and delays.

Although waste and cost overruns beset defense industries worldwide, India stands out, analysts said. Lumbering state-owned defense contractors have a monopoly on domestic production. Deadlines are repeatedly blown. Middlemen extract huge fees. Weapons underperform or don't perform at all.

"India's tried since the 1950s to produce most of what it needs indigenously but has failed miserably," said Siemon T. Wezeman, a senior fellow with the Stockholm think tank. "If you're a bright engineer and you want to make a good name, you go elsewhere. "

After recent trials on its Arjun tank, commissioned in 1974, India proudly announced it had outperformed the Russian T-90. "But the T-90 is from the late 1980s, early 1990s," Lunde said. "That's not a very flattering comparison. And China's version has moved well beyond the classic T-90."

India's homegrown light Tejas aircraft still isn't operational after 29 years of development, one of several such "black hole" projects.

As procurement and production delays drag on, hardware already in service creaks along, or doesn't, well past its due date. Between 2008 and 2012, India, among the few countries still flying MIG fighter planes, lost 27 of them in crashes, prompting local media to dub them "flying coffins."

The armed services have also been mired in corruption scandals involving real estate, hardware procurement and even coffins. Anticorruption safeguards introduced in response can be so restrictive that they tie purchasing in knots, critics say, undermining Indian security.

This week, army chief Gen. V.K. Singh set off a political firestorm by disclosing that he'd been offered a $2.8-million bribe in 2010, which he said he didn't take — an investigation was never initiated — to approve a shipment of 600 substandard Czech-made trucks. The vehicles, ultimately purchased for $200,000 apiece, by some accounts, sell for half that in Eastern Europe.

A leaked letter he'd written to the prime minister described India's air defenses as "97% obsolete," artillery and infantry in an "alarming" state, and tanks without ammunition. The news broke while Chinese President Hu Jintao was in town for a global conference.

"This is hardly a surprise to the Chinese," said Manohar Thyagaraj, a partner in the New York-based Hudson Fairfax Group, a private equity firm investing in defense. "He didn't say anything that wasn't already known."

Standing beside one of his company's armored personnel carriers at the defense expo in Delhi's crumbling Pragati Maidan convention center, General Dynamics UK senior manager Andrew Boyle said India requires patience.

"It's a difficult market. They do things their own way," he said, as two Chinese attendees snapped detailed pictures of the vehicle. "And it takes them time to come to a decision. But it's a country with enormous potential.

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First test of nuclear missile Agni-V in a fortnight: DRDO chief






From the first test of Agni-V in a fortnight, an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by 2013 and a missile shield for Delhi by 2014 to combat drones, quick-launch micro satellites and Star Wars-like laser weapons in the coming years, DRDO promises to deliver on all fronts. 

Defence Research and Development Organization, with its 51 labs, of course, often makes tall claims only to consistently overshoot timelines and cost estimates. But DRDO chief Dr V K Saraswat on Saturday, at the ongoing ''DefExpo-2012'' here, was all gung-ho about the tactical and strategic weapon systems in the pipeline. 

For starters, India's most-ambitious nuclear missile, Agni-V, which classifies as an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) with a strike range of over 5,000-km, will be tested in mid-April, he said. 

The three-stage Agni-V, with its advanced ring-laser gyros, composite rocket motors and highly accurate micro-navigation systems, comes close to the top American missiles in terms of technology, said Saraswat. 

India will break into the exclusive ICBM club that counts just US, Russia, China, France and UK as its members, once the 50-tonne Agni-V is ready for induction by 2014-2015. The solid-fuelled missile, with a canister-launch system to impart greater operational flexibility, is crucial for India's nuclear deterrence posture since its strike envelope will be able to cover the whole of China. 

Concurrently, said Saraswat, ''The K-15 SLBM is now getting ready for the final phase of induction after its two recent tests (from submersible pontoons) were successful...We have done over 10 flights of it so far.'' 

The 750-km-range K-15, followed by the 3,500-km K-4, will arm India's homegrown nuclear submarines. INS Arihant, which is undergoing trials now, for instance, has four silos on its hump to carry either 12 K-15s or four K-4s to complete India's long quest for ''an operational nuclear weapon triad''. 

As for the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, designed to track and destroy incoming hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere, Saraswat said its Phase-I would be completed by 2013 and Phase-II by 2016. ''We will test the exo-atmospheric interceptor at 150-km altitude this year, which will be followed by an endo-atmospheric test at 30-km altitude,'' he said. 

With the Capital identified as the first city to get its protection, DRDO has also begun work to add a third tier to the BMD system to intercept cruise missiles, artillery projectiles and the like at lower altitudes, in the line with the overall aim to achieve ''near 100% kill or interception probability''. 

DRDO is now also focusing on ''space security'', with special emphasis on protecting the country's space assets from electronic, or physical destruction by ''direct-ascent'' missiles, in the backdrop of China developing advanced ASAT (anti-satellite) capabilities. 

Work is also in progress to develop several directed energy weapons (DEWs), including a 25-kilowatt laser system to destroy incoming missiles in their terminal stage and a 100-kilowatt solid-state laser system to take out missiles in their boost phase itself. 

''We also need to build the capability to provide launch-on-demand mini or micro satellites to our armed forces for communication and navigation facilities (in the event the country's satellites being destroyed by an enemy),'' said the DRDO chief.

Defexpo India 2012 Photos































































































Life starts returning to normality in South Waziristan





Life has started returning to normality in South Waziristan with the return of the internally displaced persons and adoption of new and healthier ways of life, with an active support of the Pakistan Army, which has launched various rehabilitation and livelihood projects in the area, after restoring peace to majority of areas.

Out of some 515,000 population, over 300,000 had migrated from the war-hit area to different parts of the region including DI Khan. The Pakistan Army, working on the strategy of Clear-Hold-Build, has been encouraging rehabilitation of the displaced people and till now, 41,563 families have returned to the area after being verified and enlisted.

“We had nothing left to live on as nomads anymore, and were not sure if we would be able to return to our homes after the devastation. But after we got here, we have seen signs that have encouraged us to bring our families back,” said Rehmanullah, the father of nine, who now earns his livelihood from a shop at the Sararogha.

These shops are part of the ‘Build Better Than Before’ program under which the Army Engineers have so far constructed five complexes with 160 shops at Kotkai, Chagmalai, Jandola and Sararogha to create a base for economic activities.

The backbone of the rehabilitation effort is the 270 kilometre long lifeline of restive South Waziristan starting from its gateway Tank till Wana in the west and till Sararogha, Makin and beyond. Sweeping the pathway off improvised explosive devices (IEDs), other explosives and probable ambush points, building the road was a daunting task.

Sharing developments and the challenging task of rehabilitation, GOC Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that helping the locals recover from economic devastation was of prime importance; this in mind, Pak Army engaged the stakeholders and as a first step started construction of market complexes at Kotkai, Chagmalai, Jandola and Sararogha to create a base for economic activities.

The revival of infrastructure, shouldering the pastoral economy and enlivening the shattered ones, seems pivoted along this road as the Model Villages too are built along it.

The facilities like shops, poultry farms, honey extraction facilities, schools, health centres, sports complex, recreational park, public toilets, roadside driver hotels and mosques are planned to serve as hub of village activities. Model villages at Kotkai, Chagmalai and Jandola have been commissioned in a record period of about six months. Model village Sararogha is near its completion.

The water channels have been revived, realigned and channelled to reclaim 644 acres of land. Another 290 acres have been developed into model agriculture patches by Army at Kotkai, Murghiband and Meziwam Kach, where wheat seeds, fertilizer and ploughing facility have been provided free of cost. The lush green patches of wheat crop, currently sowed were a heartening sight during the flight from Jandola to Sararogha.

Health and electricity are another area that needed emergent attention, the GOC said. The demolished and scratched Jandola Civil Hospital was renovated and commissioned in Nov 2011.

The armed forces face an uphill task of getting the local population to adapt to these new ways of living.
   SOURCE:






Tuscaloosa air show brings back memories for Tuskegee Airmen



Carter, 94, sat in a wheelchair on a runway of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, his eyes squinting against the sun to examine the sleek silver body of a P-51 Mustang that moments ago was streaking through the air as part of the 2012 Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show.
Below the deep hum of planes careening through the sky, Carter shook his head, speaking only to himself. Was it really 70 years ago? Seventy years since he cut through the clouds in one of these stunning aircrafts, since he escorted bombers in the face of German and Italian forces in World War II as one of the original members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Carter is a heavily decorated veteran, flying in 77 combat sorties as a member of the famous 99th Pursuit Squadron.
Because of his distinguished record, Carter was asked by executive producer George Lucas to fly to Hollywood in 2009 to advise Lucas' team in the making of the film “Red Tails,” which was released this year.
As he looked on at the P-51 in front of him Saturday, its pilot walked over and kneeled down beside him eager to hear how the planes handled in combat.
“It was very reliable,” Carter replied before leaning in to share details only someone who has flown these aircraft can hope to understand.
Shortly thereafter, Carter was asked what he thought of jumping back in the cockpit for old times' sake.
“Kick the tires, start the fire and let's go, boy,” Carter said with a smile

Burning beam target: US Navy may deploy lasers in four years




This US Navy photo shows how members of the Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems Program Office, of Naval Sea Systems Command, fire a laser through a beam director (AFP Photo / US NAVY / Handout)
This US Navy photo shows how members of the Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems Program Office, of Naval Sea Systems Command, fire a laser through a beam director (AFP Photo / US NAVY / Handout)


The US Navy hopes to have operational laser cannons on their ships within the next four years. They will be used against fast-moving targets like cruise missiles, speedboats and drones.
The Navy hopes to have a working prototype for the futuristic laser weapon within two years, Wired reports.
“The contract will probably have options go through four years, but depending on which laser source the vendors pick, we may be able to demo something after two years,” says Roger McGiness, who works on laser tech at the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
Mike Deitchman, who oversees future weapons development for ONR, says in a month or two his directorate will hold an informal idea session with industry representatives. A contract for building a prototype may be sealed by the end of the year.
The development comes after the Navy decided laser weapons technology is mature enough for deployment. The tipping point was last April’s test of a 15-kilowatt beam solid state laser, which managed to set afire the target ship’s engine. The target was moving at a distance of almost 2 km from the laser-equipped destroyer.
It’s not clear how ONR’s proceeding with a relatively low-power laser will affect research of a more powerful megawatt-scale weapon under the Free Electro Laser project. The Navy hopes to develop a more powerful scalable weapon using magnets rather than a crystal as the gain medium. It could be used against heavily-armored vessels as opposed to unarmored aircraft and boats.
However, such a laser remains elusive after a decade of research. Engineers still have no idea how to scale down such a device to fit onto a vessel or how to produce enough power onboard to feed it.
“It’s easier to shrink down a solid-state laser, and there’s a maturity here, vice the Free Electron Laser,” Deitchman explained. “The solid-state laser will still deal with many asymmetric threats, but not the most hardened, most challenging threats. It’s near-to-mid term. The Free Electron Laser is still long-term.”
Futuristic laser weapons are not the only ones the US Navy hopes to deploy. In February, ONR announced it had started testing for the first industry prototype of an electromagnetic railgun launcher. The weapon uses powerful magnetic fields to accelerate a conductive projectile to speeds of thousands of meters per second – enough to throw it hundreds of kilometers

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Senior U.S. Army Officer Gives Update on Major Equipment Programs



The Army G-8 addressed the status of the service’s top modernization portfolios, ground combat vehicle, aviation and the network and reiterated the number-one priority would remain Soldier protection.
Speaking to members of the Association of the U.S. Army at its March Institute of Land Warfare breakfast, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox first grabbed the audience’s attention by debunking what he called some of the myths of Army modernization.
ARMY MYTHS
The biggest myth, Lennox said, was the perception the Army had lived “high on the hog and now it’s time to do something else with your money.”
“I just want to remind folks that it wasn’t long ago that we were living in the Army of 2001,” he said. “And, in that Army we had a $56 billion shortfall or 2001 holes in the yard. Life wasn’t good in the Guard and the Reserve and it wasn’t so good in the active force.
“It’s taken Congress, industry and Army leadership to get where we are today and that’s something important not to forget,” he continued, adding that leadership responded to the needs of Soldiers in a flexible way, in an inflexible situation.
The second myth is the belief that the Army can’t acquire anything. He cited a number of successes, including the Stryker Double-V Hull which just two years ago didn’t exist. It was a concept of industry that brought the idea to service leadership because of the number of casualties the Army was taking, Lennox said.
“We took the idea to Army leadership and to the Hill and got support everywhere we went and today, Soldiers are driving the Stryker Double-V Hull in combat,” he said. “There have been 40 times, as of about a week ago, that Soldiers have been hit resulting in three significant casualties. Before that, every vehicle, every hit was catastrophic.
“It’s an example of what can happen when industry, leadership, Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense all come together and make those things happen with our Soldiers in mind,” Lennox added.
Lennox said the final myth is that America’s whole strategy has shifted to anti-access/aerial denial and that there’s no role for the Army in that; let’s just invest in the Navy and Air Force.
“It’s not to say we don’t need to invest in the Navy and Air Force, there are a lot of reasons to do that, but I’m here to talk about what if we get it wrong (by not investing in the Army),” he said, reminding the audience that after World War II, the country focused on nuclear war with the Soviet Union where the U.S. wouldn’t need a ground Army anymore.
“What did we get but a conventional war in Korea and after Korea we still had the threat of a strategic nuclear war with tactical nukes, and what did we get but protracted counter-insurgency in Vietnam,” Lennox said.
“After Vietnam we had to be posed for the big fight in the central European plains against Warsaw Pact forces, but what did we get but Desert Storm,” he continued. “Thankfully, the work and preparation we did for that fight in Europe helped us in Desert Storm and we were successful. Then after the Gulf War, we were going to fight conventional wars with rogue states; we were going to fight two wars at the same time. We did get that, one major unconventional war in Afghanistan and a protracted counter-insurgency fight in Iraq.”
“The bottom line is we always get it wrong. We predict the future to give us an idea, guidance in our decision-making and investments, but we get it wrong,” he added. “We can’t afford to get it wrong. We have to make sure that at least in the area of modernization, we cannot afford to be wrong.”
TODAY & FUTURE ARMY MODERNIZATION
In research, development and acquisition accounts the Army has gone from a fiscal year 2012 budget of $26 billion down to a fiscal year 2013 budget of $24.3 billion, which effectively canceled eight programs. The Army went from lowest priority and worked up, delaying or restructuring 89 other programs while protecting 10 priority programs.
“We built our priorities, we funded our priorities and we’ve stuck with our priorities,” said Lennox. “Protecting Soldiers as they fight is the number-one priority.”
The general again cited the Stryker Double-V, the latest improved mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, nine changes to body armor, three new sniper weapons, the M4A1, which is about to be fielded and has three additional improvements over the M4, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, light-weight crew-served weapons, precision munitions and up-armored, medium and heavy trucks.
GROUND COMBAT VEHICLE PORTFOLIO
Presently the Army’s number-one motorized priority remains the Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, which leadership continues to evaluate. Aside from cost, current requirements are that it have growth potential, be capable of carrying a squad of nine and be built within seven years.
Lennox said the Army’s search for a GCV includes assessing developmental vehicles as well as non-developmental vehicles, or those already in use by other countries such as Sweden, Israel and Germany.
The GCVs are intended to replace the fleet of M113 tracked armored personnel carriers which were first introduced in Vietnam in 1962. Lennox said the M113 had played an enormous role in a number of different formations, mostly in the heavy brigade combat team as a command and control vehicle. The Army expects analysis complete by summer, he said.
“We have a number of possible replacements, turret-less Bradley, take the turret off and you get some exciting aspects,” he said. “I’ve given the PM (program manager) a target of about a million a copy. That’s our goal, to keep the price of this vehicle down and give us the best you can at that price.”
He added that the Abrams M1A2 and the Bradley non-IFV are the “best two tanks in the world, but need upgrading. Lennox said both will receive upgrades that include network integration as well as improved electronics, armor and suspensions.
The Stryker will also be upgraded as will the Paladin PIM which is on-track to replace the M109A6 howitzers.
AVIATION MODERNIZATION
Moving to the aviation portfolio, Lennox said the Army would be “touching every single aviation platform” which includes cockpit and sensor upgrades to the Kiowa Warrior OH-58.
Every aspect from providing the LUH (light utility helicopter) for Guard and Reserve use in a homeland defense role to improvements in the Apache AH-64 Block III Longbow and the CH-47F Chinook will be touched, Lennox said.
Lennox said the Army was also improving on each of the unmanned aerial systems.
“The Shadow workhorse is a huge contributor on the battlefield today,” he said. “When you talk to any brigade commander, he’ll tell you they love the Shadow — just need five or 10 more of that capability so there’s a constant demand for them.”
Gray Eagle will also be rolling out, Lennox said, and will serve as an update to the highly regarded Predator. It can cover everything from wide-area intelligence reconnaissance to convoy and improvised-explosive-device detection and defeat, close air support, communications and weapons delivery.
NETWORK INTEGRATION
With regard to the network, Lennox said the Army has converged onto a single path that’s more affordable than what was to be the “revolutionary” Future Combat Systems network back in 2008 and 2009.
The Warfighter Information Network Tactical serves as the backbone to the network and brings command and control down to the company level. Lennox said increment two gives the Army the first battle command on-the-move capability. A spring Network Integration Evaluation to test the system will be conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said.
The Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, is already in use by the 75th Rangers, said Lennox, adding that he’s hearing good things about the system. JTRS includes a man-packable system, the rifleman radio, NET Warrior systems and serves as a replacement for the Ground Mobile Radio, or GMR. The new JTRS system is now termed the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicle Radio or MNVR.
Lennox concluded that most changes will be “incremental improvements that the Army was not looking for revolutionary change.”
Lennox has been nominated to serve as the DOD principal deputy director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

SOURCE:


Saturday, March 31, 2012

India is darling of global defense firms


India launches the four-day defense exhibition, Defexpo, in New Delhi.
Indian Defense Minister A.K. Antony, in white, visits the Defexpo defense exhibition in New Delhi. Many defense firms are looking to land contracts with India. (Press Information Bureau / March 31

Sailor-suited Russian models touted their nation's submarines. Indian officers posed for pictures atop foreign-made armor-plated vehicles.

And working the room at New Delhi's aging exhibition center were French, British and American arms merchants from global defense giants, elbowing each other aside in the search for a deal at Defexpo India 2012, the country's biggest-ever weapons trade show.

Fueled by superpower ambitions and rivalry with China but hampered by a creaky domestic defense industry, India is on a military buying spree that's made it the belle-of-the-global-military ball.

"India's a little yokel with pockets full of cash and everyone's trying to mug it," said Ajai Shukla, a defense analyst and former army colonel.

India's long shopping list calls for $20 billion in fighter jets, $1.5 billion worth of refueling aircraft and billions of dollars in submarines, tanks and artillery, among other equipment, all part of an estimated $80 billion spending spree over the next five years.

Pakistan once kept Indian generals awake at night. But increasingly that mantle goes to China, with its growing economic and military might and festering territorial disputes along its shared 2,800-mile-long border with India. Adding to India's insecurity are memories of its defeat by Beijing in a 1962 border war.

The situation leaves India increasingly bracing for the possibility of a two-front war given close Sino-Pakistani relations. Its armed forces already battle civil unrest and border incursions in the disputed region of Kashmir, a homegrown Maoist insurgency and threat of terrorists breaching its thinly patrolled coast, as seen during the 2008 Mumbai attack.

The country was the world's largest weapons importer for the 2007-11 period, according to theStockholm International Peace Research Institute think tank, followed by South Korea, Pakistan and China. Although the Middle Kingdom's annual military budget of $106 billion is nearly three times India's, the rapid expansion of its homegrown defense industry means it produces an estimated 90% of its weapon systems domestically, compared with 30% for India.

A measure of India's unease is seen in plans to add three army divisions totaling 90,000 soldiers along the border. This anxiety isn't shared, however, with Beijing largely focused on what the American military, not India's, is up to, analysts said.

China holds the high ground given the altitude of the Tibet plateau — key in any land conflict — in part because of its superior hardware and better rail and road links. By some estimates, China could deploy troops within a week, whereas India would need three weeks.

"India must at all costs avoid land competition with China," said Endre Lunde, a consultant with IHS Jane's, a defense consultancy. "It just can't end well."

India has some advantages though. Its aircraft take off at lower altitudes, allowing them to carry greater payloads. And India would probably enjoy stronger global diplomatic support in any conflict.

Increasingly, however, Delhi must also contend withChina'snavy, poised to start challenging its neighbor's primacy in the Indian Ocean. Beijing's first aircraft carrier started sea trials in August, and three more carriers are expected in quick succession. And despite its traditional focus on the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea, China is financing port construction in Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Pakistan and Bangladesh and flexing its muscle with antipiracy missions off Somalia.

India has sought a Russian-built carrier for at least four years, but the cost has now reportedly doubled to $2.3 billion after repeated squabbles with Moscow. Two more carrier purchases are planned by 2017. For now, however, India has to make do with a 1950s-era British-built carrier that's on its last legs.

Beyond perceived threats, India is also hoping its military spending will help modernize its design, engineering and assembly industries, project greater regional clout befitting an emerging superpower and help reverse its record of failed indigenous weapon production, cost overruns and delays.

Although waste and cost overruns beset defense industries worldwide, India stands out, analysts said. Lumbering state-owned defense contractors have a monopoly on domestic production. Deadlines are repeatedly blown. Middlemen extract huge fees. Weapons underperform or don't perform at all.

"India's tried since the 1950s to produce most of what it needs indigenously but has failed miserably," said Siemon T. Wezeman, a senior fellow with the Stockholm think tank. "If you're a bright engineer and you want to make a good name, you go elsewhere. "

After recent trials on its Arjun tank, commissioned in 1974, India proudly announced it had outperformed the Russian T-90. "But the T-90 is from the late 1980s, early 1990s," Lunde said. "That's not a very flattering comparison. And China's version has moved well beyond the classic T-90."

India's homegrown light Tejas aircraft still isn't operational after 29 years of development, one of several such "black hole" projects.

As procurement and production delays drag on, hardware already in service creaks along, or doesn't, well past its due date. Between 2008 and 2012, India, among the few countries still flying MIG fighter planes, lost 27 of them in crashes, prompting local media to dub them "flying coffins."

The armed services have also been mired in corruption scandals involving real estate, hardware procurement and even coffins. Anticorruption safeguards introduced in response can be so restrictive that they tie purchasing in knots, critics say, undermining Indian security.

This week, army chief Gen. V.K. Singh set off a political firestorm by disclosing that he'd been offered a $2.8-million bribe in 2010, which he said he didn't take — an investigation was never initiated — to approve a shipment of 600 substandard Czech-made trucks. The vehicles, ultimately purchased for $200,000 apiece, by some accounts, sell for half that in Eastern Europe.

A leaked letter he'd written to the prime minister described India's air defenses as "97% obsolete," artillery and infantry in an "alarming" state, and tanks without ammunition. The news broke while Chinese President Hu Jintao was in town for a global conference.

"This is hardly a surprise to the Chinese," said Manohar Thyagaraj, a partner in the New York-based Hudson Fairfax Group, a private equity firm investing in defense. "He didn't say anything that wasn't already known."

Standing beside one of his company's armored personnel carriers at the defense expo in Delhi's crumbling Pragati Maidan convention center, General Dynamics UK senior manager Andrew Boyle said India requires patience.

"It's a difficult market. They do things their own way," he said, as two Chinese attendees snapped detailed pictures of the vehicle. "And it takes them time to come to a decision. But it's a country with enormous potential.

source:

First test of nuclear missile Agni-V in a fortnight: DRDO chief





From the first test of Agni-V in a fortnight, an operational submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) by 2013 and a missile shield for Delhi by 2014 to combat drones, quick-launch micro satellites and Star Wars-like laser weapons in the coming years, DRDO promises to deliver on all fronts. 

Defence Research and Development Organization, with its 51 labs, of course, often makes tall claims only to consistently overshoot timelines and cost estimates. But DRDO chief Dr V K Saraswat on Saturday, at the ongoing ''DefExpo-2012'' here, was all gung-ho about the tactical and strategic weapon systems in the pipeline. 

For starters, India's most-ambitious nuclear missile, Agni-V, which classifies as an ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) with a strike range of over 5,000-km, will be tested in mid-April, he said. 

The three-stage Agni-V, with its advanced ring-laser gyros, composite rocket motors and highly accurate micro-navigation systems, comes close to the top American missiles in terms of technology, said Saraswat. 

India will break into the exclusive ICBM club that counts just US, Russia, China, France and UK as its members, once the 50-tonne Agni-V is ready for induction by 2014-2015. The solid-fuelled missile, with a canister-launch system to impart greater operational flexibility, is crucial for India's nuclear deterrence posture since its strike envelope will be able to cover the whole of China. 

Concurrently, said Saraswat, ''The K-15 SLBM is now getting ready for the final phase of induction after its two recent tests (from submersible pontoons) were successful...We have done over 10 flights of it so far.'' 

The 750-km-range K-15, followed by the 3,500-km K-4, will arm India's homegrown nuclear submarines. INS Arihant, which is undergoing trials now, for instance, has four silos on its hump to carry either 12 K-15s or four K-4s to complete India's long quest for ''an operational nuclear weapon triad''. 

As for the two-tier ballistic missile defence (BMD) system, designed to track and destroy incoming hostile missiles both inside (endo) and outside (exo) the earth's atmosphere, Saraswat said its Phase-I would be completed by 2013 and Phase-II by 2016. ''We will test the exo-atmospheric interceptor at 150-km altitude this year, which will be followed by an endo-atmospheric test at 30-km altitude,'' he said. 

With the Capital identified as the first city to get its protection, DRDO has also begun work to add a third tier to the BMD system to intercept cruise missiles, artillery projectiles and the like at lower altitudes, in the line with the overall aim to achieve ''near 100% kill or interception probability''. 

DRDO is now also focusing on ''space security'', with special emphasis on protecting the country's space assets from electronic, or physical destruction by ''direct-ascent'' missiles, in the backdrop of China developing advanced ASAT (anti-satellite) capabilities. 

Work is also in progress to develop several directed energy weapons (DEWs), including a 25-kilowatt laser system to destroy incoming missiles in their terminal stage and a 100-kilowatt solid-state laser system to take out missiles in their boost phase itself. 

''We also need to build the capability to provide launch-on-demand mini or micro satellites to our armed forces for communication and navigation facilities (in the event the country's satellites being destroyed by an enemy),'' said the DRDO chief.

Defexpo India 2012 Photos






























































































Life starts returning to normality in South Waziristan




Life has started returning to normality in South Waziristan with the return of the internally displaced persons and adoption of new and healthier ways of life, with an active support of the Pakistan Army, which has launched various rehabilitation and livelihood projects in the area, after restoring peace to majority of areas.

Out of some 515,000 population, over 300,000 had migrated from the war-hit area to different parts of the region including DI Khan. The Pakistan Army, working on the strategy of Clear-Hold-Build, has been encouraging rehabilitation of the displaced people and till now, 41,563 families have returned to the area after being verified and enlisted.

“We had nothing left to live on as nomads anymore, and were not sure if we would be able to return to our homes after the devastation. But after we got here, we have seen signs that have encouraged us to bring our families back,” said Rehmanullah, the father of nine, who now earns his livelihood from a shop at the Sararogha.

These shops are part of the ‘Build Better Than Before’ program under which the Army Engineers have so far constructed five complexes with 160 shops at Kotkai, Chagmalai, Jandola and Sararogha to create a base for economic activities.

The backbone of the rehabilitation effort is the 270 kilometre long lifeline of restive South Waziristan starting from its gateway Tank till Wana in the west and till Sararogha, Makin and beyond. Sweeping the pathway off improvised explosive devices (IEDs), other explosives and probable ambush points, building the road was a daunting task.

Sharing developments and the challenging task of rehabilitation, GOC Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said that helping the locals recover from economic devastation was of prime importance; this in mind, Pak Army engaged the stakeholders and as a first step started construction of market complexes at Kotkai, Chagmalai, Jandola and Sararogha to create a base for economic activities.

The revival of infrastructure, shouldering the pastoral economy and enlivening the shattered ones, seems pivoted along this road as the Model Villages too are built along it.

The facilities like shops, poultry farms, honey extraction facilities, schools, health centres, sports complex, recreational park, public toilets, roadside driver hotels and mosques are planned to serve as hub of village activities. Model villages at Kotkai, Chagmalai and Jandola have been commissioned in a record period of about six months. Model village Sararogha is near its completion.

The water channels have been revived, realigned and channelled to reclaim 644 acres of land. Another 290 acres have been developed into model agriculture patches by Army at Kotkai, Murghiband and Meziwam Kach, where wheat seeds, fertilizer and ploughing facility have been provided free of cost. The lush green patches of wheat crop, currently sowed were a heartening sight during the flight from Jandola to Sararogha.

Health and electricity are another area that needed emergent attention, the GOC said. The demolished and scratched Jandola Civil Hospital was renovated and commissioned in Nov 2011.

The armed forces face an uphill task of getting the local population to adapt to these new ways of living.
   SOURCE:






Tuscaloosa air show brings back memories for Tuskegee Airmen


Carter, 94, sat in a wheelchair on a runway of the Tuscaloosa Regional Airport, his eyes squinting against the sun to examine the sleek silver body of a P-51 Mustang that moments ago was streaking through the air as part of the 2012 Tuscaloosa Regional Air Show.
Below the deep hum of planes careening through the sky, Carter shook his head, speaking only to himself. Was it really 70 years ago? Seventy years since he cut through the clouds in one of these stunning aircrafts, since he escorted bombers in the face of German and Italian forces in World War II as one of the original members of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Carter is a heavily decorated veteran, flying in 77 combat sorties as a member of the famous 99th Pursuit Squadron.
Because of his distinguished record, Carter was asked by executive producer George Lucas to fly to Hollywood in 2009 to advise Lucas' team in the making of the film “Red Tails,” which was released this year.
As he looked on at the P-51 in front of him Saturday, its pilot walked over and kneeled down beside him eager to hear how the planes handled in combat.
“It was very reliable,” Carter replied before leaning in to share details only someone who has flown these aircraft can hope to understand.
Shortly thereafter, Carter was asked what he thought of jumping back in the cockpit for old times' sake.
“Kick the tires, start the fire and let's go, boy,” Carter said with a smile

Burning beam target: US Navy may deploy lasers in four years



This US Navy photo shows how members of the Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems Program Office, of Naval Sea Systems Command, fire a laser through a beam director (AFP Photo / US NAVY / Handout)
This US Navy photo shows how members of the Directed Energy and Electric Weapon Systems Program Office, of Naval Sea Systems Command, fire a laser through a beam director (AFP Photo / US NAVY / Handout)


The US Navy hopes to have operational laser cannons on their ships within the next four years. They will be used against fast-moving targets like cruise missiles, speedboats and drones.
The Navy hopes to have a working prototype for the futuristic laser weapon within two years, Wired reports.
“The contract will probably have options go through four years, but depending on which laser source the vendors pick, we may be able to demo something after two years,” says Roger McGiness, who works on laser tech at the Office of Naval Research (ONR).
Mike Deitchman, who oversees future weapons development for ONR, says in a month or two his directorate will hold an informal idea session with industry representatives. A contract for building a prototype may be sealed by the end of the year.
The development comes after the Navy decided laser weapons technology is mature enough for deployment. The tipping point was last April’s test of a 15-kilowatt beam solid state laser, which managed to set afire the target ship’s engine. The target was moving at a distance of almost 2 km from the laser-equipped destroyer.
It’s not clear how ONR’s proceeding with a relatively low-power laser will affect research of a more powerful megawatt-scale weapon under the Free Electro Laser project. The Navy hopes to develop a more powerful scalable weapon using magnets rather than a crystal as the gain medium. It could be used against heavily-armored vessels as opposed to unarmored aircraft and boats.
However, such a laser remains elusive after a decade of research. Engineers still have no idea how to scale down such a device to fit onto a vessel or how to produce enough power onboard to feed it.
“It’s easier to shrink down a solid-state laser, and there’s a maturity here, vice the Free Electron Laser,” Deitchman explained. “The solid-state laser will still deal with many asymmetric threats, but not the most hardened, most challenging threats. It’s near-to-mid term. The Free Electron Laser is still long-term.”
Futuristic laser weapons are not the only ones the US Navy hopes to deploy. In February, ONR announced it had started testing for the first industry prototype of an electromagnetic railgun launcher. The weapon uses powerful magnetic fields to accelerate a conductive projectile to speeds of thousands of meters per second – enough to throw it hundreds of kilometers

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Senior U.S. Army Officer Gives Update on Major Equipment Programs


The Army G-8 addressed the status of the service’s top modernization portfolios, ground combat vehicle, aviation and the network and reiterated the number-one priority would remain Soldier protection.
Speaking to members of the Association of the U.S. Army at its March Institute of Land Warfare breakfast, Lt. Gen. Robert P. Lennox first grabbed the audience’s attention by debunking what he called some of the myths of Army modernization.
ARMY MYTHS
The biggest myth, Lennox said, was the perception the Army had lived “high on the hog and now it’s time to do something else with your money.”
“I just want to remind folks that it wasn’t long ago that we were living in the Army of 2001,” he said. “And, in that Army we had a $56 billion shortfall or 2001 holes in the yard. Life wasn’t good in the Guard and the Reserve and it wasn’t so good in the active force.
“It’s taken Congress, industry and Army leadership to get where we are today and that’s something important not to forget,” he continued, adding that leadership responded to the needs of Soldiers in a flexible way, in an inflexible situation.
The second myth is the belief that the Army can’t acquire anything. He cited a number of successes, including the Stryker Double-V Hull which just two years ago didn’t exist. It was a concept of industry that brought the idea to service leadership because of the number of casualties the Army was taking, Lennox said.
“We took the idea to Army leadership and to the Hill and got support everywhere we went and today, Soldiers are driving the Stryker Double-V Hull in combat,” he said. “There have been 40 times, as of about a week ago, that Soldiers have been hit resulting in three significant casualties. Before that, every vehicle, every hit was catastrophic.
“It’s an example of what can happen when industry, leadership, Congress and the Office of the Secretary of Defense all come together and make those things happen with our Soldiers in mind,” Lennox added.
Lennox said the final myth is that America’s whole strategy has shifted to anti-access/aerial denial and that there’s no role for the Army in that; let’s just invest in the Navy and Air Force.
“It’s not to say we don’t need to invest in the Navy and Air Force, there are a lot of reasons to do that, but I’m here to talk about what if we get it wrong (by not investing in the Army),” he said, reminding the audience that after World War II, the country focused on nuclear war with the Soviet Union where the U.S. wouldn’t need a ground Army anymore.
“What did we get but a conventional war in Korea and after Korea we still had the threat of a strategic nuclear war with tactical nukes, and what did we get but protracted counter-insurgency in Vietnam,” Lennox said.
“After Vietnam we had to be posed for the big fight in the central European plains against Warsaw Pact forces, but what did we get but Desert Storm,” he continued. “Thankfully, the work and preparation we did for that fight in Europe helped us in Desert Storm and we were successful. Then after the Gulf War, we were going to fight conventional wars with rogue states; we were going to fight two wars at the same time. We did get that, one major unconventional war in Afghanistan and a protracted counter-insurgency fight in Iraq.”
“The bottom line is we always get it wrong. We predict the future to give us an idea, guidance in our decision-making and investments, but we get it wrong,” he added. “We can’t afford to get it wrong. We have to make sure that at least in the area of modernization, we cannot afford to be wrong.”
TODAY & FUTURE ARMY MODERNIZATION
In research, development and acquisition accounts the Army has gone from a fiscal year 2012 budget of $26 billion down to a fiscal year 2013 budget of $24.3 billion, which effectively canceled eight programs. The Army went from lowest priority and worked up, delaying or restructuring 89 other programs while protecting 10 priority programs.
“We built our priorities, we funded our priorities and we’ve stuck with our priorities,” said Lennox. “Protecting Soldiers as they fight is the number-one priority.”
The general again cited the Stryker Double-V, the latest improved mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, nine changes to body armor, three new sniper weapons, the M4A1, which is about to be fielded and has three additional improvements over the M4, the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, light-weight crew-served weapons, precision munitions and up-armored, medium and heavy trucks.
GROUND COMBAT VEHICLE PORTFOLIO
Presently the Army’s number-one motorized priority remains the Ground Combat Vehicle, or GCV, which leadership continues to evaluate. Aside from cost, current requirements are that it have growth potential, be capable of carrying a squad of nine and be built within seven years.
Lennox said the Army’s search for a GCV includes assessing developmental vehicles as well as non-developmental vehicles, or those already in use by other countries such as Sweden, Israel and Germany.
The GCVs are intended to replace the fleet of M113 tracked armored personnel carriers which were first introduced in Vietnam in 1962. Lennox said the M113 had played an enormous role in a number of different formations, mostly in the heavy brigade combat team as a command and control vehicle. The Army expects analysis complete by summer, he said.
“We have a number of possible replacements, turret-less Bradley, take the turret off and you get some exciting aspects,” he said. “I’ve given the PM (program manager) a target of about a million a copy. That’s our goal, to keep the price of this vehicle down and give us the best you can at that price.”
He added that the Abrams M1A2 and the Bradley non-IFV are the “best two tanks in the world, but need upgrading. Lennox said both will receive upgrades that include network integration as well as improved electronics, armor and suspensions.
The Stryker will also be upgraded as will the Paladin PIM which is on-track to replace the M109A6 howitzers.
AVIATION MODERNIZATION
Moving to the aviation portfolio, Lennox said the Army would be “touching every single aviation platform” which includes cockpit and sensor upgrades to the Kiowa Warrior OH-58.
Every aspect from providing the LUH (light utility helicopter) for Guard and Reserve use in a homeland defense role to improvements in the Apache AH-64 Block III Longbow and the CH-47F Chinook will be touched, Lennox said.
Lennox said the Army was also improving on each of the unmanned aerial systems.
“The Shadow workhorse is a huge contributor on the battlefield today,” he said. “When you talk to any brigade commander, he’ll tell you they love the Shadow — just need five or 10 more of that capability so there’s a constant demand for them.”
Gray Eagle will also be rolling out, Lennox said, and will serve as an update to the highly regarded Predator. It can cover everything from wide-area intelligence reconnaissance to convoy and improvised-explosive-device detection and defeat, close air support, communications and weapons delivery.
NETWORK INTEGRATION
With regard to the network, Lennox said the Army has converged onto a single path that’s more affordable than what was to be the “revolutionary” Future Combat Systems network back in 2008 and 2009.
The Warfighter Information Network Tactical serves as the backbone to the network and brings command and control down to the company level. Lennox said increment two gives the Army the first battle command on-the-move capability. A spring Network Integration Evaluation to test the system will be conducted at Fort Bliss, Texas, he said.
The Joint Tactical Radio System, or JTRS, is already in use by the 75th Rangers, said Lennox, adding that he’s hearing good things about the system. JTRS includes a man-packable system, the rifleman radio, NET Warrior systems and serves as a replacement for the Ground Mobile Radio, or GMR. The new JTRS system is now termed the Mid-Tier Networking Vehicle Radio or MNVR.
Lennox concluded that most changes will be “incremental improvements that the Army was not looking for revolutionary change.”
Lennox has been nominated to serve as the DOD principal deputy director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.

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