Egypt and India Deepen Security Cooperation

A former Egyptian Helwan HA-300 aircraft is displayed in the Flugwerft Schleißheim

A former Egyptian Helwan HA-300 aircraft is displayed in the Flugwerft Schleißheim.


…The two sides agreed to enhance and deepen defense cooperation in all fields, especially through exchanging technological expertise in defense industries, visiting military exercises, and exchanging best practices…”


Egypt and India have recently accelerated security cooperation. In 2021, the two militaries held naval, air force, and tactical counterterrorism training exercises, and in September 2022, India’s defense minister visited Egypt to sign a bilateral defense cooperation agreement. In January 2023, President Sisi of Egypt traveled to India as the guest of honor for Republic Day celebrations, where he and his Indian counterpart, Prime Minister Modi, signed an agreement to elevate bilateral relations to the level of “strategic partnership.” According to the first accompanying excerpt from the final joint statement of that event, published by the Egyptian government’s State Information Service, the Egyptian-Indian strategic partnership will include an expansion of bilateral military exercises, efforts to bolster defense co-production, and increased exchanges of technological expertise.

Indeed, the potential for their bilateral collaboration is clear, as Egypt’s interest in strengthening its domestic defense industry aligns neatly with India’s interest in growing its foreign military sales and partnerships. One platform allegedly being discussed in this context is India’s Tejas Mk1A light combat aircraft. According to the second accompanying excerpt from the Indian English-language daily Hindustan Times, in February 2023, the chairman of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited revealed that talks are ongoing for Egypt to buy 20 aircraft. He added: “Egypt has also shown interest in creating a local aerospace ecosystem. We will help facilitate that.” Media reports from early 2021 also point to Egyptian interest in the BrahMos[GRLCUT(1] , a cruise missile developed by India and Russia, and in the Indian-manufactured Akash[GRLCUT(2]  medium-range mobile surface-to-air missile system.[i] Both Egypt and India have significant Soviet and Russian equipment in their arsenals, and maintenance and repair of these systems are considered a likely area of collaboration, particularly in light of Russia’s expected Ukraine-related difficulties in meeting the needs of its defense export clients. The deepening Indian-Egyptian defense partnership has generated several commentaries linking recent events to developments in the 1960s, when the future of Indian-Egyptian defense cooperation seemed bright. At the time, leaders in Egypt and India saw their countries playing a critical geopolitical balancing role as founding leaders of the Cold War-era Non-Aligned Movement. Perhaps not surprisingly, the official statement at the end of Sisi’s January 2023 visit to India referred to both countries’ commitment to, among others, “the founding values of the Non-Aligned Movement.” As illustrated by the third accompanying excerpt from the Indian English-language news website The Print, this historical period is instructive as Egypt and India look to ramp up bilateral defense collaboration in an increasingly competitive geopolitical context. Specifically, the article looks at some of the lessons for the present from the short-lived and ultimately unsuccessful efforts to co-produce a light fighter jet—the Helwan HA-300—in the 1960s.


Sources:

زيارة الرئيس السيسي إلى جمهورية الهند

(President Sisi’s visit to the Republic of India),” Egypt State Information Service (National Public Information Agency), 24 January 2023. https://tinyurl.com/bderkpah

The two countries affirmed their commitment to… the founding values ​​of the Non-Aligned Movement, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries…

The two leaders welcomed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for defense cooperation during the visit of Mr. Rajnath Singh, Indian Defense Minister, to Egypt in September 2022, and expressed their appreciation for the bilateral military cooperation reaching a new level. The two sides agreed to enhance and deepen defense cooperation in all fields, especially through exchanging technological expertise in defense industries, visiting military exercises, and exchanging best practices. They also stressed the need for co-production in the defense sector and discussed specific proposals within the framework of the Joint Defense Committee


“India in talks with Argentina, Egypt for possible Tejas sale,” The Hindustan Times (Indian English-language daily), 14 February 2023. https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/india-in-talks-with-argentina-egypt-for-possible-tejas-sale-101676399079273.html

India is in talks with Egypt and Argentina for a possible sale of the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) to their air forces as the country sharpens its focus on getting a toehold in foreign markets and boosting defence exports, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) chairman CB Ananthakrishnan said at the Aero India 2023 air show on Tuesday. Egypt has projected a requirement for 20 aircraft, while Argentina needs 15 new fighters, he said. “Egypt has also shown interest in creating a local aerospace ecosystem. We will help facilitate that.”


“With Rajnath Singh in Cairo, India-Egypt pick up Nehru-Nasser thread left off in the ’60s,” The Point (Indian English-language news website), 19 September 2022. https://theprint.in/past-forward/with-rajnath-singh-in-cairo-india-egypt-pick-up-nehru-nasser-thread-left-off-in-the-60s/1133839/ Singh’s talks with his Egyptian counterpart, General Mohamed Zaki, will explore new initiatives to intensify military-to-military engagements and deepen cooperation between the defence industries of the two countries. This, after decades of sketchy contact despite India-Egypt’s close ties in the Nehru-Nasser heyday of the Non-Aligned Movement… Almost six decades on, though, the strategic imperatives that drove the collaboration still exist: Heavily dependent on imports, both countries know that true military modernisation will need the creation of a defence-industrial base at home.


Notes:

[i] See: “Egypt considers purchase of Indian missile system,” al-Monitor (Middle East-focused news and analysis website), 2 February 2021. https://www.al-monitor.com/originals/2021/02/egypt-india-russia-made-brahmos-missile-system-weapons.html


Image Information:

Image: A former Egyptian Helwan HA-300 aircraft is displayed in the Flugwerft Schleißheim
Source: Photo by High Contrast, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Helwan_HA-300,_Flugwerft_Schleißheim.jpg
Attribution: CC 3.0

Russia’s Role in India’s Bids for New Carbines and Medium Transport Aircraft

An-32 in Leh Airbase, India.

An-32 in Leh Airbase, India.


“The Indian Air Force (IAF) has initiated the process to find a replacement for the AN-32 transport aircraft in service.”


Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, the government of India has walked away from several agreements with Russia to acquire or upgrade weapon systems. Indian officials have stated that they do not believe the Russian defense industry could deliver the systems that had previously been agreed to because of the logistical challenges Russia now faces. While the canceled agreements have signaled a decline in bilateral security cooperation, some India-Russia joint ventures continue to operate and produce various systems for the Indian armed forces. Indian officials have noted that security cooperation with Russia will continue, though in a different capacity, as India has been pushing its armed forces to buy more domestically under the Make in India initiative.[i] The accompanying excerpted articles report on several developments within the Indian defense industry, particularly as they pertain to India-Russia security cooperation.

The first excerpted article from the independent English-language newspaper The Hindu, reports that the Indian Air Force recently opened a bid for a medium transport aircraft to replace its Russian AN-32s. The article notes that Indian officials previously stated that the Spanish-made C-295MW has been considered as a potential replacement and that India already ordered 56 C-295s. However, the recently opened bid specifies a heavier transport capacity than the C-295 can hold. India’s current inventory of strategic airlifters consists of around 20 Il-76[GRLCUT(1] s from Russia and a dozen C-17s from the United States, demonstrating how India has looked to multiple partners for heavier transport aircraft in the past. The article also notes that a previous joint India-Russia project to develop and produce a replacement for the AN-32 did not move beyond an initial design. The article does not mention if Russia is putting in a bid for the replacement. The result of the bid may not come out for several months, but it does not appear that Russia has an edge if it submits a bid. The second excerpted article from the English-language magazine Force reports that India’s Defense Ministry held a meeting with potential bidders for an order of 400,000 carbines chambered for 5.56×45 mm rounds and that the Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL) joint venture “was not invited to this meeting.”[ii] The article states how IRRPL started production on the order of 700,000 AK-203[GRLCUT(2]  rifles and that Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the joint venture as “one of the brightest examples of cooperation within Make in India.” The article goes on to note how Kalashnikov produces a wide range of small arms and could fulfill the bid for the carbines, leading the author to question why a Russian firm was left out of the meeting even as the Indian and Russian defense ministers discussed strengthening cooperation. In any case, the bids illustrate how India is reliant on Russia to fulfill a requirement for its armed forces.


Sources:

Dinakar Peri, “IAF to procure new transport aircraft to replace AN-32,” The Hindu (independent English-language newspaper), 3 February 2023.

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/iaf-issues-tender-to-procure-a-medium-transport-aircraft-to-replace-an-32s/article66467760.ece

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has initiated the process to find a replacement for the AN-32 transport aircraft in service. It has issued a Request For Information (RFI) for the procurement of a Medium Transport Aircraft (MTA) with a carrying capacity of 18 to 30 tonnes.

The RFI was issued on December 9, 2022, and the earlier bid submission date of February 3 has now been extended till March 31…

In the past, several IAF officials had stated that the just C-295MW, 56 of which have been just contracted, which falls in similar category as the AN-32 in terms of cargo carrying capacity would be considered as a potential replacement for the AN-32 given that a running assembly line would be available once the 56 aircraft are delivered. However, based on load carrying capacity specified in the RFI, 18 to 30 tonnes, the C-295 no longer fits the bracket as it is in the 5-10 tonnes category…

An earlier project to jointly co-develop and produce a MTA of 20 tonnes with Russia to replace the AN-32s was scrapped few years back after initial design discussions.

In September last year, the Defence Ministry signed a 21.935 Crore contract with Airbus and Space S.A., Spain for procurement of 56 C-295MW transport aircraft to replace the Avro aircraft in service with the IAF which it is executing in partnership with Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL)…

Vinit Shah, “By Invitation – Whither Kalashnikov,” Force (English-language magazine reporting on defense topics in India), 25 January 2023. https://forceindia.net/feature-report/whither-kalashnikov/

Apparently, the ministry of defence held a pre-bid meeting on January 10 with potential bidders for the purchase of 400,000 CQB carbines chambered for 5.56×45 mm. Surprisingly, the Amethi-based India-Russia joint venture, Indo-Russian Rifles Private Limited (IRRPL), in which India holds the controlling stake, was not invited to this meeting.

This is doubly strange. One, because the production lines of IRRPL are running with 700,000 AK-203 assault rifles on order; and two, in March 2019, when the JV was announced, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said, ‘the joint venture will contribute to the development of the capacity of the country’s armed forces and strengthen national security… (IRRPL is) one of the brightest examples of cooperation within Make in India…’

It is well-known that the Russian concern Kalashnikov, a partner in IRRPL, produces the widest range of small arms. It will not be difficult for the company with such a diverse portfolio to produce another model of a modern carbine at its state-of-the-art facility in Korva of the Amethi district…It is strange that the MoD gives preference to large-scale production in India of the AK-203 assault rifle chambered for 7.62×39 mm, and then suddenly decides to purchase a large batch of weapons for NATO ammunition 5.56×45 mm. Makes one wonder about the motivation for this, given that foreign minister S. Jaishankar in a recent meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov discussed the details of strengthening Russian-Indian military-technical cooperation…


Notes:

[i] For more information on the development of India’s defense industry and the cancelled agreements with Russia, see: Matthew Stein “India Cancels Plans to Purchase Russian Equipment,” OE Watch, 6-2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/p/oe-watch-issues

[ii] The 5.56×45 mm are the standard round in service rifles in NATO, while some/most/many Russian Kalashnikov variants use the 5.56×39 mm round.


Image Information:

Image: An-32 in Leh Airbase, India
Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antonov_An-32#/media/File:An32roh.JPG
Attribution: CC BY-SA 3.0


India Moves To Compete With China in Africa

3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.

3rd India-Africa Forum Summit.


“Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks during the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD), held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 here in Gujarat, are being seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in Africa.”


India has taken various steps to counter China since a series of border clashes took place along the Line of Actual Control in 2017 and 2020.[i] While most of these initiatives involved developing operational and tactical capabilities in the Indian Army, the Indian government has also taken a few strategic-level measures to strengthen its position in the Indo-Pacific region against China.[ii] However, a new playing field for Indian and Chinese competition is showing itself: the accompanying excerpted articles report on recent Indian efforts to sell weapon systems to governments in Africa, offering insights into Indian efforts to counter China at the strategic level.

The excerpted article from India’s independent think-tank Center for Land Warfare Studies examines Chinese exports of weapons in Africa. The author notes how China has been increasing arms exports to the Middle East and North Africa in recent years and that this has been taking place alongside the use of ports in the region. The author also points out how China is in a position to continue sales of weapons in Africa as the war in Ukraine could reduce Russia’s share of the arms market in the region. While India’s defense industry has yet to export significant numbers of weapon systems in the way that China can, a second article provides insight into Indian plans to change this status quo.

This excerpted article from India’s independent English-language news website, The Print, reports on the India-Africa Defense Dialogue, held in October in India alongside the most recent iteration of the country’s defense exposition. The article states that a number of participants from Africa attended and that India’s Defense Minister Rajnath Singh wanted to explore new areas of security cooperation between India and African states, “including capacity-building, training, cybersecurity, maritime security, and counter-terrorism.” Singh also stated that India and Africa are “important stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment, especially in the Indian Ocean region.” He further commented that India will partner with any African country on the “basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect.” Lastly, the article references an extensive list of weapons that might be of interest to African militaries, which could give India another opportunity to counter China if New Delhi is able to supply these systems as part of a different partnership than Beijing offers. 


Sources:

Dr. Manjari Singh, “China’s Increasing Arms Supply to the Middle East and Beyond: Another Dimension to the New Silk Road?,” Center for Land Warfare Studies (independent think-tank in India), 28 October 2022, No. 367.

https://www.claws.in/publication/chinas-increasing-arms-supply-to-the-middle-east-and-beyond-another-dimension-to-the-new-silk-road/

China has been expanding its arms export beyond Asia and for the last half a decade, Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have become its favourite destinations. From the region’s side, China is emerging as the second-best choice for arms imports after the US. Furthermore, the Russia-Ukraine conflict has added a new dimension to the existing global arms industry with an anticipated boost to China’s overall arms diplomacy particularly in the Middle East…

China has been exporting armed drones to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Iraq and Jordan since 2020…This change in position is also reflective of the East Asian economy’s

increasing weapon’s platform outreach—from 40 countries to 53, over a span of one decade from 2010 to 2019…

It is noteworthy that between 2015 and 2022, China has leased ownership of as many as

10 ports. Apart from these ports, China has been building seven more ports which are strategically significant, and serves as economic and political outposts for its expansionist approach. The Karachi Deepwater Port in Pakistan, Sokhna port in Egypt, CICT Terminal in Sri Lanka, Chittagong and Payra Ports in Bangladesh, CSP Terminal, Khalifa Port in the UAE, Sudan Port, Bagamoyo and Dar es Salaam Ports in Tanzania, and Lamu & Mombasa ports in Kenya, are some of the other ports developed by Chinese firms…

The Russia-Ukraine conflict is likely to dent Russian economy and the former’s aggression will presumably lead to its diplomatic isolation, both of which are likely to provide a favourable environment to Chinese arms market. Additionally, maritime connectivity and building of Chinese ports in the Western Indian Ocean will further facilitate China’s arms sale…

Snehesh Alex Philip, “To counter China’s influence, India seeks to boost defence cooperation with African countries,” The Print (independent English-language news website from India), 18 October 2022.

https://theprint.in/defence/to-counter-chinas-influence-india-seeks-to-boost-defence-cooperation-with-african-countries/1173223/

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s remarks during the India-Africa Defence Dialogue (IADD), held on the sidelines of DefExpo 2022 here in Gujarat, are being seen as a counter to China’s growing influence in Africa.

Fifty African countries participated in the India-Africa Defence Dialogue initiated during the last DefExpo held in Lucknow in 2020. Among the attendees were defence ministers of 20 African countries…

During his address Tuesday, the Defence Minister stressed the need to explore new areas of convergence for defence engagements between India and Africa, including capacity-building, training, cybersecurity, maritime security and counterterrorism. He added that India and African countries are important stakeholders in ensuring a safe and secure maritime environment, especially in the Indian Ocean region.

“We do not believe in making or becoming a client or satellite state, and so, when we partner with any country, it is on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect…” he said.

Sources in the defence establishment also said equipment of interest to Africa includes light combat helicopters, patrol vessels, small arms, shoulder-fired rockets, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launchers, and surveillance drones, among others…


Notes:

[i] For more background on the clashes, see: Christopher Clary and Vipin Narang, “India’s Pangong Pickle: New Delhi’s Options After Its Clash with China,” War on the Rocks, 2 July 2022. https://warontherocks.com/2020/07/indias-pangong-pickle-new-delhis-options-after-its-clash-with-china/

[ii] The government of India increased its security cooperation with Vietnam in 2022 as one strategic-level measure to counter China. For more see: Matthew Stein, “India Strengthens Security Cooperation with Vietnam,” OE Watch, Issue #8, 2022. https://community.apan.org/wg/tradoc-g2/fmso/m/oe-watch-articles-2-singular-format/422297


Image Information:

Image: 3rd India-Africa Forum Summit
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3rd_India-Africa_Forum_Summit_4.jpg
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

India Responds to Chinese and Pakistani Naval Activities in Sri Lanka

India Navy continuity drill.

India Navy continuity drill.


“India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean…”


The independent Indian daily newspaper Deccan Herald recently published an article, the first excerpted below, regarding India’s response to Chinese and Pakistani naval operations at Sri Lankan ports. According to the article, India is concerned that it risks losing its preeminent position as the primary security provider for Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean region at large. The article also emphasizes the importance of the timing of India’s deal to supply Sri Lanka with Dornier 228 maritime aircraft as a means of reasserting its geopolitical standing in the region. The provision of the Dornier 228 to Sri Lanka occurred shortly after Sri Lanka granted permission to the Strategic Support Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, which tracks satellites and intercontinental ballistic missiles, to visit Sri Lanka’s Hambantota Port. In addition, Sri Lanka allowed the Pakistani Navy frigate PNS Taimur to refuel at Colombo Port when returning home from naval exercises in Cambodia and Malaysia. In a recent statement published by the Chinese Communist Party People’s Daily, as shown in the second article, a China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson noted that Chinese support to port infrastructure in Sri Lanka and other developing nations is simply a sign of Chinese cooperation between nations, and therefore India’s concerns are unwarranted. In the third excerpted article, from the Indian publication The Hindu, the author argues that the Dornier 228 will revamp Sri Lanka’s capabilities to contribute more to the security of the Indian Ocean region, which, in turn, supports India’s regional interests. At the same time, the new capabilities will reaffirm Sri Lanka’s role as a member of the Colombo Security Conclave, whose other three members are India, the Maldives and Mauritius. The article nevertheless acknowledged that India’s increased maritime security interest in Sri Lanka is being driven by its apprehension over Sri Lanka’s cooperation with China in maritime naval affairs.


Sources:

“Sri Lanka allows Pakistani warship, Chinese recon vessel to dock in its ports, to get maritime patrol aircraft from India,” deccanherald.com (independent daily newspaper targeting youth readership), 14 August 2022. https://www.deccanherald.com/national/sri-lanka-allows-pakistani-warship-chinese-recon-vessel-to-dock-in-its-ports-to-get-maritime-patrol-aircraft-from-india-1135976.html

Even as China’s recon ship ‘Yuan Wang 5’ is back on course towards the Hambantota Port of Sri Lanka, India is set to gift the island nation a Dornier 228 maritime patrol aircraft soon, subtly reasserting its role as the net security provider to the island…. New Delhi will replace the used aircraft with a newly-built one two years later and will then discuss with Colombo the modalities for handing over another aircraft to the Sri Lankan Navy or the Coast Guard.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

Beijing had on August 8 dismissed New Delhi’s security concerns as “senseless” and tacitly asked it to desist from “disturbing normal exchanges and cooperation” between China and Sri Lanka…. India also pointed out that it was its sovereign right to express its security concerns over the arrival of China’s ship with military capabilities in Sri Lanka.

India’s move to help Sri Lanka enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities appears to be a subtle move by it to reassert its role as a net security provider for the Indian Ocean, notwithstanding increasing forays by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy and Pakistani Navy in the region.

“毛宁:中国将为发展中国家做更多实事、好事 (Mao Ning: China will do more practical and good deeds for developing countries),” people.com.cn (largest Chinese newspaper owned by the Chinese Communist Party), 8 October 2022. http://world.people.com.cn/n1/2022/1008/c1002-32541066.html

The infrastructure of these countries includes ports, bridges, and power stations, in addition to mosques, parliament buildings, stadiums, and libraries. They are all beautiful business items made in China, and they are also golden images of China’s cooperation with developing countries.

“India hands over Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft to Sri Lanka Navy,” thehindu.com (widely circulated Indian daily newspaper), 15 August 2022. https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/india-to-hand-over-dornier-maritime-surveillance-aircraft-to-sri-lanka-navy/article65770998.ece

Sri Lanka Air Force announced that the Indian Air force was gifting it a Dornier 228 Maritime Patrol Aircraft, while noting another aircraft would be donated within two years…. Sri Lanka is a member of the ‘Colombo Security Conclave’ that began as a trilateral initiate involving India, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, and later included Mauritius, for maritime cooperation in the region.


Image Information:

Image: India Navy continuity drill
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:India_Navy_continuity_drill_1.jpg
Attribution: www.indiannavy.nic, CC BY 2.0

India Draws Lessons on Cyber and Electronic Effects From the War in Ukraine 

GSLV-Mk III-D1 being moved from Vehicle Assembly Building to second launch pad.

GSLV-Mk III-D1 being moved from Vehicle Assembly Building to second launch pad.


While national R&D is focused in this field, the Indian Army is closely watching the advancements made by our adversaries, to ensure that these vital capabilities are inducted into our armed forces well ahead of times


The Indian Army has been focused on a possible conflict with China since the border incidents on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in 2017 and 2020.  While Indian officials have been improving the army’s combat and logistic capabilities on the LAC, the accompanying excerpted article reports on an Indian Army exercise involving satellite communications that drew lessons from the war in Ukraine and that officials are hoping will guide further development of army capabilities.  The article from the independent English-language newspaper The Hindu reports on the scenario of the exercise, which involved using all satellite communications in the Indian Army in different technical and operational situations.  The article notes that the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) also took part in the exercise and that it included the eastern regions and northern border areas of India, which includes the LAC.  The articles go on to mention how the Indian Army has been studying electronic warfare in the war in Ukraine at multiple levels and that India believes this further established the importance of satellite communications.  The article notes that the army is currently using ISRO satellites but is set to have its own by December 2025 as India’s Acquisition Council approved the new satellite back in March during the early weeks of the war in Ukraine.  It is also points out that the Indian Army is closely watching the advancements made by its adversaries and that this is an effort to stay ahead of them.  Overall, the exercise and satellite acquisition show how India continues to respond to China and that it is closely watching what is happening in Ukraine.  


Source:

Dinakar Peri, “Indian Army conducts Exercise Skylight to test resilience of its satellite communications,” The Hindu (independent English-language newspaper), 6 August 2022. 

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/indian-army-conducts-exercise-skylight-to-testresilience-of-itssatellite-communications/article65733174.ece

To test the operational readiness of satellite systems and personnel manning them, the Indian Army last week carried out Exercise Skylight validating and showcasing the resilience of its communication capabilities in case terrestrial connectivity is disrupted in future conflicts, officials in the security establishment said. 

“During the two-week long exercise, all satellite communication assets in the Army were activated and various technical and operational scenarios in space domain were simulated.  Various agencies responsible for space and ground segments, as also the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) participated in the exercise,” a source in the security establishment said.  This includes over 200 static platforms and over 80 vehicle based and man portable systems that were incorporated… 

“…the exercise covered the eastern part of the country, northern borders and the island territories. “This will be done regularly,” the source said. 

The Army has carried out detailed studies of cyber and electromagnetic effects in the war in Ukraine. Electronic warfare has played a major role in Ukraine, sources said, “We had multiple iterations on how this conflict has panned out, at various levels.”  

The studies established efficacy of reliable satellite communication like the one afforded by ‘Starlink’, officials said…(the) Indian Army is utilizing the services of a number of ISRO satellites as it does not have a dedicated satellite.  In March, The Defence Acquisition Council cleared a proposal for a GSAT-7B communications satellite.  The army is on course to get its own satellite by December 2025. 

…To train its personnel on all aspects of satellite communication, the Army recently published Request for Information for its own student satellite, for training engineering students in Military College of Telecommunication Engineering on satellite technology. 

…While national R&D is focused in this field, the Indian Army is closely watching the advancements made by our adversaries, to ensure that these vital capabilities are inducted into our armed forces well ahead of times, officials added. 


Image Information:

Image: GSLV-Mk III-D1 being moved from Vehicle Assembly Building to second launch pad 
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:GSLV-Mk_III-D1_being_moved_from_Vehicle_Assembly_Building_to_second_launch_pad.jpg 
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

India Strengthens Security Cooperation With Vietnam

Defense Minister Shri Rajnath Singh

“The Indian military has the advantage of operating similar platforms to Vietnam’s.”


India has taken several measures to counter China in the past several years, particularly after violent clashes on the Indian – Chinese border in 2017 and 2020.  In addition to strengthening the capabilities of its armed forces along the border, the accompanying excerpted article from the Indian independent think-tank Observer Research Foundation reveals how India is trying to improve security cooperation with Vietnam.  Following the 2020 border skirmishes, Indian officials believe future conflict with China will not likely be limited to one domain.  The article reports on Indian Defense Minister Rajnath Singh’s visit to Vietnam in early June, noting that he signed two security cooperation agreements.  One remains unpublished in the public domain, but the other agreement involved mutual logistics support and allows both to use the other’s military facilities for repairs and replenishment.  According to the article “this arrangement will mainly benefit the Indian Navy as it ramps up its profile in the Indo-Pacific.” Finally, the article addresses the impact of the war in Ukraine on Vietnam’s ability to procure weapons and equipment from Russia, noting that India has the potential to offer Vietnam various weapons and equipment.  India operates “similar platforms to Vietnam’s and…has leveraged this by assisting Hanoi in training and capacity building.”  Ultimately, India’s agreements with Vietnam mark another step to counter China and offer a potential market for the Indian defense industry.


Source:

Sameer Patil, “The importance of India’s defence partnership with Vietnam,” Observer Research Foundation (independent think tank in India), 28 June 2022.

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/the-importance-of-indias-defence-partnership-with-vietnam/

Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh recently paid a three-day visit (8-10 June 2022) to Hanoi to strengthen defence and security ties with Vietnam…  India has also activated a satellite imaging and tracking station in Hanoi, enabling it to track Chinese naval activities in the region…

During Minister Singh’s recent visit, India and Vietnam signed two key agreements:

The first agreement, ‘Joint Vision Statement on India-Vietnam Defence Partnership towards 2030’, casts a long-term perspective on the mutual ties.  While contents of the agreement are not available in the public domain, according to officials, it aims to “enhance the scope and scale of existing defence cooperation.”

The second agreement, an MoU, focused on mutual logistics support to enable the two countries to use each other’s military bases to repair and replenish supplies.  According to the official statement, this agreement is “the first such major agreement which Vietnam has signed with any country.”  This arrangement will mainly benefit the Indian Navy as it ramps up its profile in the Indo-Pacific.

Besides, the two countries also agreed to expedite the extension of a US$500-million Line of Credit (LoC) to Hanoi… As part of the US$ 500 million LoC, India has offered Vietnam Brahmos cruise missiles, Akash missile air defence system, Varunastra anti-submarine torpedoes, and coastal radars…

Notwithstanding the pro-China orientation of the current political leadership, a key driver of Vietnam’s military build-up is the security rivalry with China.  Beijing’s stepped-up aggression to press its territorial claims in the South China Sea dispute has been a significant irritant for Hanoi…

Vietnam has traditionally relied on Russia for its weapons.  However, given its renewed proximity with the US and the US sanctions against the Russian defence industry, Hanoi has sought to diversify its recent arms purchases…

Since the South China Sea clashes, Vietnam has boosted its defence spending, averaging US $4.8 billion between 2014 and 2018.  But, compared to the threat posed by China and its military requirements, this spending is inadequate.  Therefore, Hanoi is looking for more affordable defence suppliers with this moderate defence spending.

India can potentially be one such source.  The Indian military has the advantage of operating similar platforms to Vietnam’s.  It has leveraged this by assisting Hanoi in training and capacity building in Kilo-class submarine operations and Sukhoi-30 fighter jet training.

The unrelenting Chinese hostility in the region will ensure that India and Vietnam will continue on the path of cooperation…  However, to optimise the gains of their collaboration and contribute to regional stability, New Delhi and Hanoi will have to show tangible progress…


Image Information:

Image: Defense Minister Shri Rajnath Singh
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Defence_Minister_Shri_Rajnath_Singh.jpg
Attribution: Government Open Data License – India (GODL)

India Cancels Plans To Purchase Russian Equipment

SU-30MKI India.

SU-30MKI India.


“The ongoing conflict in Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in delays in the supply of spares for the fighter aircraft fleet.”


The Make in India initiative initially encouraged the Indian Armed Forces to gradually purchase domestic weapons or equipment whenever possible, before establishing import ban lists in the past year (see: “India Orders More Domestically Produced Self-Propelled Artillery System,” OE Watch, #3 2022).  However, as the accompanying excerpted articles report, Russia’s war in Ukraine is forcing the Indian government to reexamine certain acquisitions and upgrades for the armed forces that could further boost the Make in India initiative.  The article from the independent English-language newspaper The Hindu reports Minster of Defense Rajnath Singh’s comments in early May 2022 after the government cancelled plans to acquire and upgrade two systems from Russia.  He mentions that the government is drawing lessons from the war in Ukraine to become more self-sufficient and acknowledges that there will be short-term economic issues while becoming less dependent on imports.  The article from the English-language independent news magazine India Today reports that India’s Air Force cancelled a purchase of 48 Mi-17 V5 helicopters from Russia in support of the Make in India initiative.  Government officials claimed that “the decision to withdraw the tender for the 48 helicopters was taken long before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that the Indian Air Force is now going to support an Indian effort for a helicopter. The article from the English-language daily Live Mint reports on the Indian government’s decision to cancel a plan to upgrade a number of its Su-30 fighters just days after cancelling the purchase of Mi-17s.  The article notes that the government made the decision because of the war in Ukraine and the Make in India initiative.  It also notes that the Indian Air Force had planned to upgrade 85 Su-30s with better radar and electronic warfare capabilities.  The article mentions that there are delays for spare parts for the fighters and that, while India has stocked up on enough for now, “it is expected that the supply of these spares and other equipment may become an issue in near future.”  Overall, India did not say that it would stop looking to Russia to acquire or upgrade systems, but the war in Ukraine is causing India to reassess how much it will depend on the Russian defense industry.


Sources:

“Self-reliance vital to protect nation’s sovereignty: Rajnath Singh,” The Hindu (independent English-language newspaper), 5 May 2022. https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/self-reliance-vital-to-protect-nations-sovereignty-rajnath-singh/article65385058.ece

…Self-reliance in defence is essential not only for building domestic capacity but also safeguarding the sovereignty of the country, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said on Thursday…

…Talking of ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in defence, Mr. Singh said our past experiences had taught us that India could not depend on imports for its security. “Recent conflicts, especially the situation in Ukraine, have told us that not just defence supplies, but commercial contracts are also prone to be affected when it comes to national interests,” he stated.

In such a situation, self-reliance was necessary not only for building domestic capacity, but also for maintaining our independence, Mr. Singh said…“We may not even find it economical in the beginning. But we are very clear about this, that in the middle and long-term, it will help in building the foundation of a robust industrial base not only in the defence sector, but in every sphere of the industry,” he asserted…

Source: Manjeet Negi, “To boost Make in India, IAF cancels plans to buy 48 Mi-17 choppers from Russia,” India Today (English-language independent news magazine), 16 April 2022. https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/make-in-india-iaf-mi-17-choppers-russia-1938341-2022-04-16

Aiming to support the Make in India initiative in the Defence programme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Indian Air Force has decided to cancel plans to buy 48 more Mi-17 V5 helicopters from Russia.

Top government sources told India Today that the decision to withdraw the tender for the 48 helicopters that was taken much before the conflict between Russia and Ukraine broke out and has nothing to do with the global scenario.

“The tender for 48 Mi-17V5 helicopters has been withdrawn in view of the push for indigenisation. The IAF would now be supporting an indigenous programme for helicopters,” the sources said.

Source: “India shelves ₹35,000 cr plan to upgrade Su-30 fighter fleet amid Russia-Ukraine war,” Live Mint (online version of the financial English-language daily newspaper), 8 May 2022. https://www.livemint.com/news/india/india-shelves-rs-35-000-cr-plan-to-upgrade-su-30-fighter-fleet-amid-russia-ukraine-war-11652006926134.html

Several factors have shelved the Indian Air Force’s plan to upgrade its Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft fleet. The factors include the war between Russia and Ukraine and current policy of Make-in-India of the Indian government.

 IAF had planned to equip the Su-30 aircraft with more powerful radars and the latest electronic warfare capabilities to make it more powerful as per the latest standards.

IAF was planning to upgrade 85 of their planes up to the latest standards in collaboration with the Russians and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. The plan has been put on the backburner for now in view of the present situation…

The ongoing conflict in Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in delays in the supply of spares for the fighter aircraft fleet…

Sources said even though the spares situation is manageable at the moment and expected to remain so in the near future as India had stocked them up in a considerable amount post the Uri surgical strikes and the ongoing China conflict. However, it is expected that the supply of these spares and other equipment may become an issue in near future…


Image Information:

Image: SU-30MKI India.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:SU-30MKI_India.jpg
Attribution: Public Domain

India Begins Development of a Light Tank

“India had considered acquiring the Russian light tank the Sprut SDM1 following the outbreak of the current Sino-Indian boundary in May 2020.”


On 3 March, the Indian government announced the development of a light tank that could better operate at high altitudes and mountainous terrain along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).  The project would also provide a boost to Indian firms as part of the Make in India initiative.  The accompanying excerpted article from the Indian independent think-tank Observer Research Foundation, provides some background to the decision to develop this indigenously and points out some issues that could come up in the process.

According to the article, the proposed tank will be developed under the “Make-I category of the 2020 Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP).”  This means the government will fund the development, instead of the defense industry.  The article also points out that China has already developed its Type 15 light tank and deployed it in the high-altitude regions along the LAC.  The author notes that India considered purchasing Russia’s Sprut light tank just after the border clashes with China in May 2020, but officials ultimately decided to develop an indigenous light tank.  He also notes that while building it at home would be beneficial for the domestic defense industry, there “could potentially be a minimum five-year lag before the country witnesses the emergence of the initial variant of a homemade light tank.” 

The author cites the pained development of the Arjun main battle tank, including delays and a lukewarm reception, as an example of the issues that could come up during the development of a new tank.  He also notes the Arjun’s limited deployment only in certain geographic areas as a “reminder of how not to proceed with the development of an indigenous light tank.”  He believes that if India repeats these mistakes with a light tank, it could eventually need to import one at a time when sanctions against Russia make it a risky source of supply.


Source:

Kartik Bommakanti, “Light tanks: A shot in the arm for the Indian Army,” Observer Research Foundation (an independent think tank in India), 21 March 2022.

https://www.orfonline.org/expert-speak/light-tanks-a-shot-in-the-arm-for-the-indian-army/

The Modi government on 3 March 2022 announced the development of light tanks for the Indian Army (IA). This decision was taken under the Make-I category of the 2020 Defence Procurement Procedure (DPP)…

…the Chinese have designed and developed a dedicated light tank called the Type-15 and deploy them due to their suitability for high altitude warfare against India. The Type-15 weighs 35 tonnes with a 105 mm gun making it significantly lighter than the IA’s T-90, T-72… It is one of the few light tanks built in the last three decades…

Against this backdrop, India had considered acquiring the Russian light tank the Sprut SDM1 following the outbreak of the current Sino-Indian boundary in May 2020. In April 2021, the Directorate General of Mechanised Forces issued a Request for Information (RFI) under the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for 350 light tanks in the weight class of 25 tonnes. Notwithstanding Russia’s offer, India has now turned to native development of a light tank rather than import them.

…Irrespective of the merits of native development of light tanks, India’s decision-makers have to recognise that there could potentially be a minimum five-year lag before the country witnesses the emergence of the initial variant of a homemade light tank.

…The light tank project cannot be hobbled by past native development of armoured platforms such as the nearly 70 tonne—Arjun MBT…it is an overweight tank and can only be deployed in “pockets” such as the desert areas along the India-Pakistan border…The delayed and lukewarm integration of both variants—Mk1 and Mk1A of the Arjun MBTs by the IA also serves as a reminder of how not to proceed with the development of an indigenous light tank, because it could compel the IA and the government importing light tanks at the cost of an indigenous capability. A heavily-sanctioned Russia in the coming months and years will be a highly risky source of supply…

India Orders More Domestically Produced Self-Propelled Artillery Systems

Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.

Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.


“A large number of these guns will be specially modified with uprated engines to operate in the high altitude cold deserts of Ladakh and Sikkim.”


In August 2020, the Indian government introduced the first of several import ban lists for the armed forces.  These lists included various items that the armed forces must procure from Indian manufacturers as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” initiative, which Modi introduced in 2014.  Indian officials had hoped the initiative would help the country’s defense industry develop, but it has had limited results in the years since as the Indian armed forces have often looked abroad to acquire various weapons and equipment.  The accompanying excerpted articles report on two recent developments aimed to improve the country’s defense industry and meet operational requirements.

The first article from English-language independent news magazine India Today reports that the Indian government cancelled multiple deals to acquire new systems and that “this decision is being viewed as a strong message to the domestic defence sector.”  The article notes that “many other deals are under review,” including one for a “Russian VSHORAD (very short-range air defence) missile system for the Army.”  The article also mentions that this decision came after a review meeting last year, during which officials believed additional measures needed to be taken to better fulfill the “Make in India” initiative.

The second article from India Today reports that India’s defense ministry is preparing to “place a repeat order of 200 more 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers” and that it is the “largest order placed with an Indian private sector defence firm.”  The article notes that the defense ministry previously purchased 100 K-9 Vajras and put these into service “with the Indian army’s three strike corps ranged across the plains of the Punjab and the semi-deserts of Rajasthan.”  It also mentions that the Indian Army deployed a few K-9s into Ladakh last year as part of a trial and that the systems are designed to operate in mountainous terrain with a harsh climate. 

Overall, it is unclear what domestic substitutes Indian officials will look for in response to the cancelled deals.  The order for more K-9s is not mentioned as a replacement for a cancelled deal, though it will provide India’s defense industry with a boost and the systems can operate on the Line of Actual Control in Ladakh.  The reports show how Indian officials are now pushing harder to improve the country’s defense industry.


Source:

Manjeet Negi, “Govt cancels chopper, missile import deals under ‘Make in India’ push,” India Today (English-language independent news magazine), 14 January 2022.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/govt-cancels-chopper-missile-import-deals-under-make-in-india-push-1900263-2022-01-14

The central government has cancelled multiple deals for the purchase of short-range Surface-to-Air missiles and a tender for the purchase of 14 choppers for the Indian Coast Guard. This decision is being viewed as a strong message to the domestic defence sector.

A decision in this regard was taken during a meeting of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in New Delhi on Friday…Many other deals are under review, including the purchase of six more P-8I surveillance aircraft and Klub anti-ship cruise missiles for the Navy and Russian VSHORAD (very short-range air defence) missile system for the Army.

The initiative came after PM Modi chaired a review meeting with officials of the Ministry of Defence last year…Officials who attended the meeting last year felt that strong measures need to be taken to ensure that the country moves firmly towards Aatmanirbhar Bharat in the defence sector…

Source: Sandeep Unnithan, “What’s behind a massive order for Made-in-India howitzers,” India Today (English-language independent news magazine), 23 January 2022.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india-today-insight/story/what-s-behind-a-massive-order-for-made-in-india-howitzers-1903375-2022-01-23

The defence ministry has begun moving files to place a repeat order of 200 more 155mm tracked self-propelled howitzers worth over Rs 10,000 crore.

This significant order, to be placed with Larsen & Toubro (L&T) sometime this year, is the largest order placed with an Indian private sector defence firm and is a potential booster dose for the government’s plan to modernise the military, create an industrial defence base and reduce defence imports.

… L&T had delivered 100 K-9 Vajras for Rs 4,500 crore in partnership with South Korean defence firm Hanwha Defense. The contract was signed in May 2017 and the 100th gun delivered to the army on February 2021…

… A new order, which could be placed by this year, will see the guns start to roll out of Hazira by 2023 with all deliveries completed before 2028… The army’s five existing regiments of Vajras (each regiment has 18 guns, not counting the two in reserve) were acquired not for the mountains, but to operate with the Indian army’s three strike corps ranged across the plains of the Punjab and the semi-deserts of Rajasthan.

… Late last year, three K9s were moved up into eastern Ladakh on a trial basis. A senior artillery officer in the Udhampur-based Northern command was a key mover behind this unusual deployment. The guns drove up from Leh to the forward areas of eastern Ladakh on their own power (instead of a tank transporter-trailer), demonstrating their ability to operate independently…

What seemed to have been forgotten was that these guns had been originally designed to operate in South Korea, a rugged mountainous country with a hostile neighbor and with climatic conditions that could mimic those of eastern Ladakh…


Image Information:

Image: Indian K9 SPH at Ladakh during Indo-China Clashes.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Indian_K9_SPH_at_Ladakh_during_Indo-China_Clashes_.jpg 
Attribution: CC BY SA 4.0

Indian Forces Work on Airlift Capabilities in Ladakh

Indian Air Force C-17.

Indian Air Force C-17.


“The effort was a real-time demonstration of the inherent heavy-lift capability of the Indian Air Force.”


Indian defense officials continue to make improvements to roads and other infrastructure in areas near the Indian-Chinese border to facilitate operations in the event of a war with China.  The accompanying excerpted articles provide a look at how Indian forces are training for additional scenarios outside of the improvements in the border areas.  

The article from independent news magazine India Today reports on a recent airlift exercise by the Indian Air Force and Army.  The exercise took place to assess India’s logistics supply chain as the “Indian armed forces are preparing for another winter of enhanced deployment of over 50,000 troops in Ladakh.”  According to the article, the exercise involved C-17, IL-76, and An-32 transport aircraft operating out of the country’s Western Air Command. 

The article from India-based independent English-language news website The Print reports on an exercise carried out by the “Shatrujeet (airborne) brigade” in early November.  The exercise took place in the north of the Union Territory of Ladakh and involved members of the brigade being “inserted to a drop zone at an altitude of more than 14,000 feet.”  The article notes that the soldiers had been acclimated to the change in elevation in Ladakh prior to the exercise and that the exercise took place in order to “validate rapid response capabilities and seamless integration.”  This is important because ground travel is relatively slow up to the Tibetan Plateau where the terrain is vulnerable to rock slides and other obstacles.  Future flashpoints or confrontations with China may require a rapid response capability that only airlift can provide until follow-on forces arrive.


Source:

Abhishek Bhalla, “Operation Hercules: Army, IAF prepare for winter deployment amid Ladakh standoff,” India Today (an independent news magazine), 17 November 2021.

https://www.indiatoday.in/india/story/ladakh-standoff-china-indian-army-air-force-operation-hercules-1877909-2021-11-17

The Indian Army and Air Force carried out a joint exercise to assess their logistics supply chain. This exercise was held at a time when the Indian armed forces are preparing for another winter of enhanced deployment of over 50,000 troops in Ladakh amid continuing tensions with China…

Temperatures have begun to drop and will fall to minus 30-40 degrees during peak winter. The Indian forces are geared up for enhanced deployment in the harsh winter for a second successive year.

The exercise named ‘Operation Hercules’ was undertaken by the Indian Air Force and Indian Army on November 15 with transport aircraft of the IAF being pressed into action.

The platforms utilised for the airlift were C-17, IL-76 and An-32 aircraft, which took off from one of the forward bases of Western Air Command…

Source: “Army conducts airborne exercise in eastern Ladakh to check rapid response along LAC,” The Print (independent English-language news website from India), 1 November 2021. https://theprint.in/defence/army-conducts-airborne-exercise-in-eastern-ladakh-to-check-rapid-response-along-lac/760296/

The Indian Army’s Shatrujeet brigade is conducting an airborne exercise along the northern borders in eastern Ladakh to validate its rapid response capabilities, sources said on Monday…airborne troops of the Army’s Shatrujeet brigade were inserted to a drop zone at an altitude of more than 14,000 feet as part of the exercise, the sources mentioned.

These pre-acclimatised troops along with specialist vehicles and missile detachments were transported through C-130 and AN-32 aircraft from five different mounting bases to validate inter-theatre move, precision stand-off drops, rapid grouping and the capture of designated objectives with speed and surprise, they said.

…The exercise also involved combat free fall jumps and integrated battle drills by airborne forces, mechanised columns and attack helicopters, to validate rapid response capabilities and seamless integration…


Image Information:

Image: Indian Air Force C-17.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:IAF-C-17.jpg
Attribution: Public Domain